The strength of the collaborative partnership network is based on the participation and commitment of the partner members.  One of the key factors in ensuring and encouraging the participation of the partners is a framework of participation that is based on, and support by, collaborative guiding principles.  These guiding principles must be reviewed, maintained and potentially updated on a regular basis although these principles are also much more stable and the change required of them must less volatile than consumer interaction services and methods, for instance.  Sometimes though the activities that are viewed as more stable are also more difficult to maintain and modify.

These principles though are easily as important to the success of your collaborative partnership network as the continuous improvement program is to the consumer interaction services and methods.  In order to maintain the interest and strength in your partnership network the partners must realize a value benefit from the membership. This delivery of value must be constantly monitored and members must continuously participate in order to maintain this value proposition.  The challenge to the partnership is maintaining the fresh interest of the partners and fighting the debilitating feeling of routine and ‘going through the motions’ which will cause the slow death of the partnership.  I think the greatest enemy of the continued success of a partnership is the mundane routine that is so easy to fall into.

I would suggest that you must implement a regular cycle of review and refresh at probably six month intervals, in addition, I would also suggest that the addition of a new partner to the network should also trigger a review and refresh of the principles.  This must be done in a collaborative manner that includes all of the partners (or at least a quorum of partners) in the network  In addition I think this review should be viewed as a type of partnership conference that provides a vehicle for the partners to mingle and even present new or improved approaches and even encourage discussion of new and changing markets.  Software vendors have incorporated this approach into their customer relationship maintenance program and I think this would be a very appropriate approach for your partnership network.

In order for your partnerships to grow and strengthen there must be reason to participate and the best reason is the value that is derived from the relationship.  Next though is the challenge of maintaining the partnerships and providing a means to grow the value.  This is where a robust set of principles and the long term maintenance of these principles requires another reason to participate and a value returned from the participation.  I like the conference structure because it provides a framework for encouraging participation while also providing a value for participation.  The conference does not require a costly investment in travel and can be done as a virtual conference.  It does, however, require a value return to encourage participation.

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?