In this entry I will continue the collaboration maturity level discussion with the greatest expertise in collaboration, or maturity level five.  In this measurement I am taking a page from the project management maturity level rating of one through five because I have come to realize that there can be significant differences in the various maturity levels and it is important to provide the ability to measure levels between a simple low, medium and high.  This provides gradients that help to refine the measurement and allow for clarification of the capabilities related to each maturity level.

At the highest level, level 5, you find a partner that can essentially ‘plug and play’ new partners into their collaborative network.  This means that these partners have the processes, practices and a culture that embraces collaboration up to the highest levels of information and practices both within their own organization and with their collaborative partners.  These level 5 capable collaborative partners will easily be able to maintain a large network and they probably already are maintaining a large network of partners.  In addition to their heightened collaborative capabilities, these level 5 collaborative partners will also be identified because they display a heightened capability and desire to help their partners improve their collaborative capabilities.

I think that one of the key identification factors of the heightened collaborative skills and capabilities is the realization that the benefits and value of the collaborative network increases as the collaborative skills and capabilities of the partners increases.  This is the classic ‘the tide raises all boats’ explanation.  The benefits of the network and all partners within the network increases as the capabilities of the individual partners increase.  In other words, a trait of the more capable partners is their recognition that helping others will bring additional value and benefits to them.

The traits, or practices, of these level 5 collaborative partners include sharing business critical information within the network; sharing business critical services and practices within the network and sharing business critical resources within the network.  This level of collaboration extends the boundaries of the partner to include all of the partners in the network.  In other words, the partners’ come together into essentially one organization.  Don’t get me wrong though, this level of collaboration capabilities does not translate into reckless abandon in sharing information and services, it requires a high level of trust and an equally high level of agreement across the partners. 

The collaboration agreement at this level is much more than a non-disclosure, the agreement at this level must clearly outline the services and information that will be shared and also the protection of these same services and information from organizations outside of the partnership.  At this level of capability though the partners would already have a standard type of agreement document and arrangement that will protect and enforce the interests of all parties.  

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?