I view the collaboration network as a complicated living social organism and as such it must be maintained and fed to maintain the healthy social organism.  This network requires a continuous flow of communication, change and growth of both new partners and new initiatives and objectives because without this continuous flow the members would lose interest in the network and without the member interest, the network would whither and die.  These growth activities are critical, and most difficult, in the early stages of building the collaboration network and will level and simplify when the key communicators are identified and engaged in the network activities.

These activities are all important in the maintenance and growth of the network and the key communicators provide the glue and the incentive to maintain the network.  This is the reason that the key communicators are so important to the collaboration network.  These key communicators though also require a level of care and feeding to maintain their interest and participation.  This care and feeding includes maintaining and supporting activities and initiatives that provide value to the key communicators organization and interest the key communicators’ personal goals and objectives in a way that keeps them returning to the network.  If the network can maintain the interest of these key communicators, then the key communicators will maintain the lines of communication and encourage participation across the network.

The most difficult aspect of maintaining the collaboration network is the leadership, because this requires developing a method to share the leadership across the network.  This is most difficult because it requires that a leader begin the collaboration network and build the foundation and framework for the successful network.  Then it requires that this leader develop and implement a process to encourage others to step up to lead and actually turn the leadership over to these new leaders.  This leadership development process requires the nurture and development of the interest of network members to lead network initiatives and in so doing provide the leadership to develop new capabilities and shape the direction of the network.  This can be difficult for the initial leader to turn over the reigns, however it must be done in order to ensure the longevity of the network. 

This may be difficult however the act clearly demonstrates to the network members the level of commitment of the original members to support the collaborative nature and growth of the network.  The ‘perception is reality’ concept is most important in the collaborative network because there is no formal organization to enforce rules and standards. For this reason the perception of fairness, inclusion and collaborative decision making and leadership is important to both project and embrace to encourage participation by the members.  Two key factors to this complicated process are the key communicators and the shared leadership.


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?