In previous discussions I’ve mentioned many times that improvements and revisions in your collaborative network comes from a realization of the value that can be achieved through the revisions.  I have also discussed many times that this realization is the outcome of regular network evaluation exercises.  These network evaluation exercises provide you with the opportunity and most importantly a schedule to step back and evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of your collaborative network so that you can take measures to improve.  This is a straightforward continuous improvement method that must be extended to your collaborative network to insure the continued growth and value of the network to all of the partners in the network.

The collaborative network requires a higher level of involvement, maintenance and management on a continuous basis in order to sustain the value across the network.  Success and benefit realization does not just happen, you must work at it and in order to ensure the continued success you must regularly review the successes and failures of the network just like you would any other initiative.  This leads to the incorporation and maintenance of a continuous improvement program implementation as an integral part of the collaborative network. This can be a challenge to implement due to the span of stakeholders and the prioritization of the initiatives.

Implementing a continuous improvement program within your own organization is a relatively straight forward first because the stakeholders are within the same organization with the same priorities and second because these stakeholders are guided by the same senior leadership and the same mission.  Implementing continuous improvement program in your collaborative partnership network is much more difficult because you have different factors influencing the decisions and the priorities.  The effort increases to influence and negotiate the both the priorities and the types of improvements.  Even considering these additional challenges to implementing the continuous improvement program I believe the effort is worth the results and value that will be returned.

This additional effort and focus must be provide by the key partners within the collaborative network in order to maintain the focus and the momentum required to deliver the benefits.  It is important that the key partners embrace the continuous improvement program both publicly and privately to show their respective organizations that they embrace the program and believe in the potential.  This requires additional leadership focus and attention to ensure the results.  This is the type of attention requiring time and effort that must be provided by senior leadership to project the importance of the activity.  The management of the program will additionally require a higher level of involvement because of the interaction and coordination required across external partners.  This will require a higher level of focus and attention to ensure that the improvements are implemented and maintained across the network and this too requires a continuous involvement.  The end results however are more than worth the effort.

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?