Compatibility is an important aspect of collaboration and provides the basis for building and participating initially in the collaborative network. As I have previously discussed, compatibility provides the basis to begin the collaborative network. Both types of compatibility, cultural and professional  provide foundational building blocks for the first steps in building your collaborative network.  Next, there must be a commitment to openness. This commitment to openness is truly one of the key foundational principles of your collaborative network.  There cannot be a collaborative network without a commitment to openness and sharing.

Share the goals, strategic directions and issues of your collaborative network openly in order to build the commitment of your network partners. Share openly and consistently across your partners because to put it bluntly, collaborative success requires trust and in order to build this trust you must share openly and continuously. Sharing openly must be consistent across your network, this is not a pick and choose type of option.  Sharing openly across your collaborative network demonstrates commitment to the network partners and also demonstrates trust in the network partners. 

The demonstration of commitment and trust to openly sharing with your network partners builds the commitment to the network.  This commitment to the network is an important aspect to developing the synergy that will deliver increased value to your network and partners across the network.  As I’ve previously discussed the synergy delivers geometric value and benefits to the network.  Like any social relationship, your collaborative network requires open communications but through sharing and open communications the results delivered in meeting the shared goals and resolving the shared issues can be dramatic.

Inconsistency sharing and openness will kill trust immediately. Don't get misled that any single practice such as a repeatable process, or continuous improvement will overcome every occasion.  The only way to overcome the challenges is if these other aspects are in place.  Think about it for a moment, the first thing that you do when you lose trust and especially when dealing with a network of external partners is that you hold back in sharing.  This generally starts with holding back what you’ve identified as business issues or challenges, this is natural because you don’t want to give any competitor the information they can use to beat you.  This loss of trust is the starting point for when you begin to view your partners as competitors, then from this point it is a quick slide to exit the collaborative network.

This ability to consistently achieve value and increased benefits from your collaborative network starts with compatibility and then requires open sharing across and between your network.  This can be difficult to maintain and in fact requires additional levels of effort and commitment to manage across the network.  However, the results will be more than worth the investment.

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?