Collaboration is a complex skill that requires continuous focus and effort in order to succeed in the complex and changing supply chain and especially the retail environment.  There are a great deal of moving parts that require care and nurturing in order to first grow the collaborative culture and then maintain this culture.  You must continuously reevaluate the demands based on the changing business environment and changing partners in this business environment.  These parts change and expand and contract as the business and partner needs and capabilities change to meet the demands.  Every partner involved in this collaborative culture is changing to adjust and support the discontinuous changes in the business environment along with the new partners engaged in this environment.


Collaboration is a social exercise that interacts and relates people, capabilities and processes in an environment that is focused on meeting the business demands and success requirements of each partner in your collaborative network.  Each partner must view the existing and continuously changing and growing needs of each of the partners as a means to support their own needs and demands.  The needs of each partner change as the business requirement changes and the entire model is a complex interaction of giving and taking across partners to support the business.  This means that some business demands can be supported by one of your partners for your business and other demands can be supported by you for your partners.


In addition to the existing demands and partners the collaborative partnership must also recognize and support or take advantage of opportunistic collaborative opportunities.  This may involve a new business demand or it may involve utilizing either a new collaborative partner or extending the collaboration with existing partners to take advantage of new partner capabilities.  These opportunistic demands require continuous monitoring and evaluation with both existing partners and new potential partners or business opportunities.  This is where a robust continuous improvement process comes into play as a critical success factor. 


Collaboration is a complex practice of living and breathing interactions and reactions to internal and external demands of both the business and the environment.  This complex environment requires continuous monitoring along with strong communication practices to encourage and support the give and take across partners to support this complex environment.  The collaborative practice is also a little more subtle and complex in that it demands a focus on the success of the collaborative network and this means that in order to improve the overall performance and capabilities of the collaborative network each member must sometimes decrease their gain in order to support the gain of others in the network.


A give and take is required in this environment where each member achieves a greater overall value by tuning their capabilities to support the collaborative network.  Each member cannot win in every action but each member should also not lose in every action either.  There must be a continuous overall gain achieved by the network that could not be achieved by any one member of the network alone.  The complexity comes in the human interaction and the requirements to support the changing demands of both the market and the collaborative network.


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?