Collaboration does not just happen, requires commitment, a strategy and careful planning along with coordination across partners to be successful.  All of this requires a great deal of effort and also a great deal of patience and stamina to be successful.  A well thought out strategy will help the collaborative partnership to be successful because it encourages discussion, planning and analysis to define the collaborative partnership and all of these actives together help the partners to enter into the collaborative partnership with their eyes open and understanding and anticipating the challenges and efforts required to make these partnerships successful. 


Unfortunately, many believe initially that collaboration simply happens and that you ‘just’ have to ‘collaborate’ with your partners and you will be successful.  This is probably the single most significant reason that collaborative partnerships do not meet expectations, because a great deal of them do not define a clear strategy to understand expectations and objectives.  I see many collaborative efforts failing because there is not a clear understanding in leadership regarding expectations and requirements to be successful. 


There is a great deal of support and encouragement required from leadership for the collaborative partnerships to be successful.  I see a challenge for the collaborative partnership to understand the full picture and the full level of effort and time frame required to achieve results and value from the partnership.  Everyone buys into the concept of collaborative partnerships because of the perceived benefits and the promotion of the benefits of collaboration in industry trade marketing and websites.  This promotion of the benefits of collaboration can be a very powerful incentive to start the process, however, the level of difficulty to maintain and grow the partnerships can be a splash of cold water that dampens the commitment if you are not appropriately prepared when this decision is initially made. 


A well thought out strategy that identifies potential risks and rewards is critical to ensure the commitment is maintained during the ups and downs that will occur.  There is never an initiative implemented that does not involve ups and downs and a collaborative partnership initiative is even more susceptible to these ups and downs because of the external partners involved in the initiative.  This makes it even more important to clearly define the strategy and especially the potential risks along with the rewards in order to maintain the support from leadership.  Even with this strategy defined it will be difficult to maintain the interest and support of leadership because attention spans, and memories, are short and require continuous reminder.  Everyone supports collaboration in concept and everyone needs to be reminded why they supported collaboration while experiencing the downs.


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?