Collaboration has shown a great deal of interest and especially the potential for a robust collaborative network to deliver value and business improvements.  If you were to focus only on the industry trade journals and LinkedIn groups you would believe that collaboration is the next greatest business trend.  If you have been following my discussions you would understand that I too believe in the potential for the collaborative network.  I believe the collaborative network can be one of the greatest influences on both business capabilities and also driving value and even competition to new levels in the market.  I have also lived long enough to have seen many promising practices just miss the point of changing the market, only to fail.

I have come to the belief that the failure is not necessarily the result of any fault of the trend or practice.  I think that one of the greatest influences on the failure is the result of unreasonable hype.  Early in a trend the hype can run far ahead of the capabilities and this will eventually catch up and impact the trend.  As an example, in the early days of the Internet when dial up internet access was the norm for the majority of the people there was also a great deal of hype regarding the potential of the Internet.  The internet was going to change everything people do according to the hype and also this hype caused the Dot Com stock market bubble.  This bubble popped when the hype crashed into reality, the reality was that until high speed Internet access was pervasive for the majority of people the Internet the people would only be frustrated with the potential capabilities.  Now, however the capabilities caught up with the previous hype and the Internet has made a significant impact on people’s lives.

I worry now that the hype surrounding collaboration is starting to get ahead of the capabilities.  I still believe that the potential of collaboration can, and will, be dramatic as it relates to many aspects of both professional and personal life.  It is important though to remember and understand that collaboration doesn’t just happen, there is a lot of work involved in building and maintaining the collaborative network.  As I have previously discussed, developing the framework from both a relationship and process model require a large investment in time.  These steps along with the on-going relationship management require this investment in time and cannot be overlooked without a serious impact to your success. 

I do not know if the hype is overrunning the capabilities and for this reason I do not really know if we are in a ‘collaboration bubble’ of hype.  I do know though without the investment in time and effort your collaborative efforts will fail. 

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?