Collaborative participation methods sound very formal and structured which is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing collaboration.  However in order to encourage and maintain a level of participation across the collaborative network some structure is required to provide guidance and also to encourage and remind members to participate through methods for notification and and responding to the notification.  This structure provides and supports a fluid flow of communication across the partner network and this flow of communication provides the glue that holds the network together.  This communication must have a structure and even a schedule to ensure that all members are included and have the opportunity to easily and regularly participate.

Participation in a collaborative network is not difficult or require a lot of encouragement when the partner member is new because everything in the network is new and exciting and the partner will have the tendency to explore the network, build member relationships and discover opportunities.  This participation though loses its allure over time and especially within a changing business environment.  This drop in participation is not planned or even desired by the members, it simply drops off bit-by-bit and especially when the network communication requires the member to pull information.  So the first step is to define a method to push information to the members that also provides a method to respond.  This provides the foundation of the participation methods and also supports the necessary methods to frequently communication with the members.

The communication plans and the program development then utilize this framework to push the information to the members for response.  There are two stages of programs that must be supported by this communication plan;

  1. New program development and planning - This includes encouraging partners to suggest new objectives for the community that will improve the value of the community, including brainstorming sessions and then initial objectives and requirements definitions.
  2. Existing program maintenance and execution - This includes the execution and delivery of community objectives and programs, including activity execution, issue resolution, risk management, lessons learned to improve future programs.

You can see that the communication tools provide an important foundation for the participation and the execution of community objectives.  The success of the participation depends on this communication foundation that pushes information and pulls responses from the participants.  This communication may provide the glue and the continuous communication to provide the means to respond, however it still must be supported by virtual group sessions to build the member relationships.  The community depends on relationships and the value that these relationships deliver to the community members, the maintenance and development of these relationships depend on a combination of asynchronous communications (email, text, community web sites) and synchronous communications (virtual meetings, phone calls).  You cannot maintain a robust community without these two sides of the communications.


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?