Collaborative principles define the guidelines in which your interactions and collaboration with internal and external partners will be executed.  These principles define the appropriate actions and reactions to influences should be viewed and acted upon within your collaborative network and all members can be assured that any actions based upon the principles are appropriate and meet the partnership criteria.  These principles do not define the process, however they do provide guidance on appropriate actions and practices.  These principles are not laws for your collaboration rather they are more like guideposts or milestones that provide direction in the manner that your partners and yourself will collaborate.

These principles should be developed in a manner that they are flexible enough to apply to many types of situations where they provide appropriate direction.  They should not be specific to a situation or a partner which would require a great deal of principles along with regular and constant modifications.  Principles are defined in a manner that allows interpretation and does not require a great deal of modifications, the principles are something like the constitution; define the broad rules and allow for interpretation based on the specific event or activity and also based on the current factors that influence or drive the activity.  The principles are open for interpretation, however, these principles do not require maintenance as part of a continuous improvement program.

These principles will start initially as an exercise in defining the collaborative partnership and will require participation of each of the initial partners as appropriate.  Partners that cannot participate for any reason should be represented by a proxy.   For instance, the retailers’ external customer is part of the collaborative network should and be represented in the principles discussion by a proxy, or even proxies because it is not appropriate to expect this type of external customer to participate in the discussions.  As partners are added to the collaborative network you would review the principles with the potential new partner for agreement and acceptance, the principles should not require major revisions with the addition of partners, however you should should not be surprised at modifications or additions as new members join the partnership.  The addition of partners allows for the review and modification based upon new viewpoints and perspectives which is good for the acceptance and continued value of the principles.

These collaborative principles are an important tool for ensuring that all partners are heard and given the same opportunity to speak and participate in the discussions and plans of the community.  These principles should be viewed as encouragement to commit and participate with the assurance of acceptance and consideration from the partners in the community.  These principles must be a living agreement that changes with the times and the addition of new partners, however the principles must also provide a level of stability to ensure the partners that the principles will not change on a whim.  Participation and commitment from the partners will be encouraged by these principles and the maintenance of them should not be taken lightly.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?