As I previously discussed the strategic collaboration activities are the activities that provide the value measurement of the collaborative network.  I think these are the activities that key to measuring the maturity of the collaborative network.  These strategic collaboration activities are defined by partners sharing and delivering activities that are related to business critical activities for each of the partners.  These business critical activities are considered to be core business activities for any one of the partners related to activities and information that were closely guarded prior to entering into the partnerships.  These are the activities change change the relationship from service provider to a partner.

Let’s face it, no one goes into a collaborative partnership sharing the crown jewels of their enterprise with any partners.  You enter into the collaborative partnership with other organizations that you have done business with and as such you are familiar with their practices and capabilities.  The simple fact of the matter is that everyone starts their collaborative partnerships as a type of service arrange, in other words, I agree to obtain service ‘X’ from you, and only you, and for that arrangement you provide a shared savings.  This arrangement with partners grows and partners expand and additional services and products are added to the mix of the partnership.  This process describes the initial maturity levels of the collaborative partnership pretty clearly. 

As the trust in partners grows through the continued success of the arrangements, the types of activities and information shared with these partners in which you have developed a level of trust in each other grows and begins to include strategic types of information.  Information related to the strategic growth and product development of the partners.  In addition to the growth in the types of information and activities shared across the partners, you develop a partner on-boarding process that simplifies the relationship start-up and allows partners, and especially new partners to engage and increase value in a standard manner and more quickly.  This process describes the increasing levels of maturity in the collaborative partnership.

As this maturity and trust in partners grows, the types of activities provided by the partners and the information shared among the most mature partners reaches the level of the crown jewels of yours and their organizations.  This is the level of partnership in which you begin to share both your key strategic data and also the secret sauce capabilities.  More to the point, this is where you begin to engage partners at this highest level of trust to provide the secret sauce capabilities.  This is where you develop new strategic capabilities that would not have been attainable without these highest level of trust partners.

I am not saying that all partners in your collaborative network would ever reach this level of maturity and trust in the partnership.  Your own level of maturity will allow you however to quickly and efficiently work with all levels of maturity and most importantly will allow you to help your partners in the collaborative network grow in their maturity and capabilities.  This is what allows and encourages the collaborative network to grow.

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?