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Collaboration essentials for newbies

photo of people collaboratingHow to create the basis for success when your organization is new to collaboration.

If you are new to the concept of formalized collaboration (strategic alliances, channel partnering, public private partnerships), what should you focus on to ‘get things right’?

I was recently interviewed on the Collaborative Business Podcast by my colleague Peter Simoons. Towards the end of the interview (publication forthcoming on Peter’s website) Peter asked me to share a recommendation for those that are just starting out with collaboration or want to bring it to the next level.

I suggested a Top 3 list, which I thought I’d share with you here.

Build Relationships, Build Trust.photo of football team preparing for a match

Even in this age of technology supported communication, combined with mobility, there is no substitute for in-person relationship building. Trust and the motivation to have a relationship in the first place can only be established through face-to-face interaction. What does that mean for developing collaborative business relationships?


  1. Your organization must begin to adopt a ‘sharing and collaboration’ mindset.
  2. Assign individuals that exemplify this mindset to represent collaboration internally and externally.
  3. Pay as much attention to the relationship as to the opportunity, because the relationship will cause the collaboration to fail, not the pursuit of the opportunity.

Adopt and follow collaboration process

Yes, collaboration is about the intangibles of relationships. But it also requires hard work to reach the potential of the collaboration promise. Here is my take on the need for a collaborative process:

  1. Formality brings predictability, accountability and economy of progress.
  2. Paradoxically, formality also brings the ability to be flexible, deviate when it makes sense.
  3. Apply KISS: Not every situation requires a full on formal process. Know when to simplify AND know what you can leave out.
  4. Every organization is at a different level of maturity in ‘doing partnerships’. You operate at the level you are currently comfortable with.
  5. Learn from your partners, and be open to have them take you by the hand to ‘up your game’ for even better shared success.

Take the collaboration long viewgraphic of people aligned around a common goal

Especially if you are in a development mode as an organization, it is easy to put aside working on becoming a partner of choice as a lower priority. However, collaboration is much like life: it is a journey, with ups and downs and successes and failures. How do you engage?

  1. Take the ‘lean startup’ approach to building your collaborations. Share (evaluate) successes as well as failures
  2. Develop your ability to partner as a core competency of your business model. Not being able to partner in today’s world is a business risk!
  3. Find out what minimum competencies your business must have mastered, in order to explore collaboration with identified (desired?) corporations.
  4. Most of all, learn from not so great collaboration results together with your partner and resolve to do it better in your next shared project.

Collaboration is a new approach to business in many industries. If you are not in the IT or Pharmaceuticals industries, your company may not have gotten introduced to collaboration until recently. Now is the time to start adopting collaboration as a 21st century approach to successful global business!

Do you have an example of a challenging start to share with your fellow readers? What did you find most helpful in this article to help you with that challenge?

Thank you for reading this blog post. The full interview with more insights and tips will be available on July 3rd, 2014 via podcast.

If you want more of this type of content, please share your biggest challenges with me (privately), so I can write about what is most helpful to you as a reader/practitioner.



Collaboration essentials for newbies was originally published on Allinnova


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Steve Blank

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