Collaboration maturity level measurement will allow each partner to understand and evaluate the effort and level of management that is required to successfully build the collaborative partnership.  Collaboration is a very popular concept and everyone speaks to collaborating about this or partnering with that organization.  This is why it is important that everyone enters into the relationship with a sound definition and understanding of the concepts and expectations.  This requires that you, along with each of your potential partners clearly define expectations and review and agree to this document of understanding when entering into a partnership.  Definitions and expectations are important and are a major contributing factor for success or failure. 

As I previously discussed the starting level of maturity is a level one and at that signifies an organization that has only practiced collaboration within their own organizations and even at that it may only have developed the collaborative partnership across limited divisions within their organization.  This would signal to the leaders and collaboration champions the requirement for a greater level of effort required to manage and maintain the partnership.  When starting to build an external collaboration network each partner would be required to focus a great deal of attention and management in defining how the network would work together. 

In addition to the increased effort and focus required, the low maturity rating would also signal that the types of collaboration would be simple.  What I mean by simple is that the types of collaboration would not initially include what could be defined as business critical information.  Each partner must identify the type of collaboration with which they are comfortable.  When the partners start with a low maturity level this would start with very simple collaborative activities such as collaborating on shipments to gain reduced rates. 

The organizations at a level one collaboration maturity level are new to collaboration and must develop the level of trust that comes with practice in order to mature up to more progressive levels.  These organizations also must confirm the value and gain the initial benefits that can be achieved through collaboration as a way of proving the concepts.  This confirmation and development of trust in the partnerships only come with time and delivery of the benefits.  This also requires a great deal of management time and coordination to achieve the level of trust that is required to move to the next level of maturity.

The partners should complete a questionnaire that will help to identify the maturity level as a prerequisit to entering into the partnership.  As I’ve stated above, it is necessary to understand the maturity level and the initial expectations of each partner as you enter into the agreement.   This questionnaire would be in addition to the partnership agreement that would define the terms of the agreement.

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?