In order to build a collaborative community that delivers long term value to all members of the community, including the customers, there must be a long term commitment and strong participation from all members in the community.  The clear challenge is to develop both the commitment and the participation of the community members to provide direction and the leadership required for the long term success of the community.  The collaborative community is a loose federation of members acting in a manner that benefits the community as a whole and this requires sharing and participation in the leadership and development and maintenance of strategic direction in order to succeed. 

There have been, and will always be, a graveyard of failed collaborative initiatives that begin in a burst of energy and excitement for the potential and then end in a whimper of lost interest.  So we can surmise one of two reasons for the success, or failure, of the collaborative community:

  1. The community and participating members in the community are very lucky to have found a group and a type of community that gell and come together naturally to allow the collaborative community to succeed.
  2. The community and participating members work very hard in collaboration and encouraging and maintaining the participation and the level of interest to encourage the collaborative community to succeed.

While both of these reasons may be involved, my strong belief is that the second reason is by far the most likely reason.  Both reasons delivery the same result, the difference between the two reasons though involves understanding and planning for success.  I would also say that the first reason is another example of the members working hard and there are members that are natural leaders and natural collaborators that bring the members together as second nature. 

This ability to bring the members together is a skill, though, that can be planned and measured and executed in a thoughtful manner that will produce the results.  I think that the reason why so many collaborative partnerships end in failure is the failure to recognize, and more importantly to accept, the level of effort and planning that is required to support the partnership.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning and communication involved in the success of the collaborative partnership.  The planning and communication of the plans and achieving the commitment from other members to the plans may not be glamorous work to many people but these activities are critical to the success of the community.  In addition you should not be fooled into thinking that these activities are only required during the startup of the community; these activities must be continued throughout the life of the community and this is why it is so important to share the leadership in these activities.  


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?