In order to internalize and incorporation the collaboration model as part of your own organizations methods, business model and practices you must move from the skunkworks implementation to incorporation of a collaboration strategy.  You must formalize the methods, tools, performance indicators to measure success and your business objectives.  This collaboration strategy will encourage and measure the results and benefits of the partnership to your organization in order to ensure the continued support of your organization’s senior leadership. 

I'd summarize my method for creating the collaboration strategy as:

  • Create a vision or future state where the benefits for both your own organization and the collaborative partners are identifiable, measurable, and are in alignment of strategic business goals of not only each organization but also the partnership network..
  • Wrap a robust process around this vision that includes performance indicator measurement along with regular communication on the progress toward the goal.
  • Reward and celebrate the team's accomplishments along the way.
  • Perform regular evaluations of the objectives, results and performance indicators as part of a formalized continuous improvement program to ensure that the strategy continues to deliver benefits.

In the beginning of your strategy implementation it is important to define quick hit objectives to achieve an early win for the team to provide momentum.  These early wins will also show some immediate results that will help to ensure you retain the support of the executive sponsors.  In addition to the early wins, the formalized  continuous improvement program help to ensure that the collaborative partnership network grows and continues to provide the support necessary in a changing business environment.  This is necessary to ensure that the early benefits achieved continue to grow and the network does not die. 

There comes a time in every strategic improvement process where the shine wears thin and the process can be in danger of losing its momentum and support.  This is where the continuous improvement program becomes a critical tool and critical ingredient supporting the growth and value the robust and high performance network.  The most important time for your continuous improvement program is after the new car smell wears off and there is another new initiative that diverts the focus and attention of senior leadership.

In addition to the internal strategy development it is also time to develop a strategy that can be embraced by all of your collaborative partners.  This external strategy should be developed in the same manner, and for the same reason, as your internal strategy.  This external strategy can be viewed as more of a patchwork, or quilt, of the many internal strategies of your network partners.  You must cultivate the continued success and support of your network partners just as you do your internal leadership.  This strategy will provide the method to guide and direct the focus into developing the lasting high performance network.

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?