As I mentioned in my previous entry, the one truly critical tool required to maintain the success of the collaborative network is the attitude of the partners -  your collaborative partners must learn not to ‘Compromise’ but to ‘Synergise’.  As I’ve also stated, the exact tools used in this synergistic mode are of secondary importance to the mode itself. In the end the team must internalize this mode identify the tools that can help to achieve the mode.  I believe there is an second vital condition to recognize and embrace to support the collaborative network and that is compatibility.  For your collaborative network and partnerships to be successful, there must be cultural compatibility between and across the partners.

The culture can be developed over time, but it is mostly in-situ and part of the institution - whether a firm or a function or even a location in a firm. This compatibility can be encouraged and strengthened over time but the compatibility cannot be forced, even with the implementation of a repeatable process. The starting point must come from a base that is compatible so that the compatibility can be grown and strengthened over time.  Tools such as the social networking tools and collaboration tools can, and should, be added and embraced to support and even strengthen the compatibility of the partners, but the starting point must be the compatibility of the partners within the network.

Your collaboration partners and collaborative network is fundamentally based on social relationships.  You are developing the business relationships in the same manner as you would build your personal relationships, it is a type of tribe that you are developing.  This starts with compatibility, connecting through similarities whether they be long term goals or similar practices, they all start with compatibility.  The collaborative network of business relationships is made up of the people that represent the companies, or organizations that are striving to build personal relationships.  The people in these organizations require the social gathering. It is critical to remember that companies and organizations do not have relationships but the people in these companies and organizations will tend toward developing the personal relationships.

An interesting aspect of compatibility is that it is not finite, in other words compatibility can and will grow and strengthen as the collaborative network grows and strengthens.  In this way compatibility is a similar trait as synergy, as the partners focus and strengthen their compatibility, the points in which the compatibility grow and strengthen.  The compatibility points can also be viewed as a type of building block, or framework, that will grow and expand as the relationships grow and expand.  For instance three partners may join in the collaborative network because of the compatibility to a fourth partner and not because of any initial compatibility to each other.

Building the compatibility requires patience and determination but it does deliver value across the 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?