A culture supporting collaboration starts with communication and sharing across channels, customers and retailers to support the free flow of ideas and information.  This can be a very difficult concept for business and especially a large retailer that has developed sub cultures within their larger culture over the years.  Collaboration is something that require nurturing and support over an extended period of time in order to take hold and become part of the culture.  Small retailers have a distinct advantage in developing a culture of collaboration because they do not have the resources to support a closed culture and they have a smaller organization in which to implement the practices.  Collaboration culture is a set of practices and processes that can be implemented that are held together with belief and desire.


Collaboration is an action, a verb, that describes the act of working with others, in your early education the resulting report card would be ‘plays well with others’.  Collaboration is also a skill that requires practice, planning and effort to reach out to others and most importantly to find solutions and objectives that provide benefit to the participants.  Finally, collaboration is also a culture and this concept is especially focused on describing and organization or a group.  Each one of these concepts builds on the other to produce increased value and the collaboration culture provides the basis for sustainable and long term value.


The collaboration culture is the most difficult to develop frankly because it involves people and personalities and commitment.  All of these things are continuously working against the collaborative culture and require commitment to overcome the obstacles to create a long term culture.  This is a never ending struggle in the collaborative culture because there are always reasons to short circuit collaborative actions.  This is not to say there are not sometimes good reasons to bypass collaboration but it does mean that you must focus and strive to start with the intent to collaborate.  The intent is important to maintain because the intent will maintain and support and grow the collaboration culture.


Collaboration culture must be the long term objective for any collaborative efforts and this collaborative culture is the most difficult to achieve and then maintain. The command and control practice and culture is always calling because of the ease to maintain and the perceived efficiencies.  Collaboration can be messy and frustrating because of the collaboration action and for this reason it is important to remember that collaboration does not require everyone involved to agree.  This too is an important and often overlooked concept in the collaboration process; consensus is required to come to a decision.  Consensus is also a difficult practice because while you may not always agree, you must always abide and accept the concensus.


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?