Collaboration can help to overcome many hurdles in within the partner organizations and companies and it can also help support functionality or provide capabilities to the partner organizations.  These are all well and  good in supporting and providing a framework for the stability of the partner organizations.  There is another major, or key, area of capability that collaboration can support and this is supporting and providing the capabilities for the partners and partnership to compete against much larger organizations.  This is the area where the capabilities that can be supported by the partnership network as a whole are much more robust than any individual within a single partner.

The first example that comes to mind to show what I mean is related to staffing.  Lets use a services organization in this example.  You have a potential opportunity for a project with a company to redefine and implement improvements to a function that requires business skills, software implementation skills including infrastructure and data management, and business intelligence.  You are competed with larger organizations that can support the requirements internally while you can only compete in the software implementation portion yourself.  At first glance this would be a deal breaker for your offering and you would move on to the next opportunity.  However, when you take into account the potential to collaborate with others that can round out your capabilities you find that you can easily compete with larger organizations.

I’ve seen some staffing companies moving into this model to survive in the world of project delivery.  These staffing companies grow and put teams together based on individual contractors that possess the necessary skills to support the requirements.  This can and is a very successful model for many small staffing companies that I think would very easily transfer into a small organization collaboration framework.  This model also conceptually fits very nicely into the framework that I have been promoting; perform a SWOT analysis to identify weaknesses and the evaluate the market for partner opportunities to overcome the weaknesses. 

In this case your SWOT analysis would evaluate your capabilities and requirements to compete in new and lucrative market segments that you may currently not be able to support.  In fact I would suggest that this become part of your regular business evaluation process and be performed at least annually both internally and then across your partner network.  It is a very valuable exercise to step back and evaluate the business landscape for new opportunities on a regular basis.  If you do not take the time and energy to perform this evaluation you take the risk of missing out on changes that provide additional opportunities and this could lead eventually to the demise of your business.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you identify and address new opportunities in your current business market?  Have you ever tried to develop a SWOT focused on new business opportunities or new markets  to evaluate the fit for partnership and as a means to address and meet new opportunities?  Do you regularly develop a SWOT analysis to evaluate your internal capabilities and needs to support new business and market opportunities?