How and When Collaboration is Advantageous

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By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist™

The biggest source of growth and increased opportunities in today’s business climate is dependent upon the way individuals and companies work together.  This article is a follow-up to last month’s column, “Collaborations, Partnering, and Joint-Venturing.”

Situations Which Call for Teams to Collaborate:

  • Business Characteristics 

Most industries and core business segments cannot be effectively served by one specialty.  It is imperative that multiple disciplines within the core business muster their resources.

  • Circumstances

People get thrown together by necessity and sometimes by accident.

They are not visualized as a team and often start at cross-purposes.  Few participants are taught how to best utilize each other’s respective expertise.  Through osmosis, a working relationship evolves.

  • Economics

In today’s downsized business environment, outsourcing, privatization, and consortiums are fulfilling the work.  Larger percentages of contracts are awarded each year to those who exemplify and justify their team approaches.  Those who solve business problems and predict future challenges will be retained.  Numerically, collaboration contracts are more likely to be renewed.

  • Demands of the Marketplace

Savvy business owners know that no one supplier can do it all.  Accomplished managers want teams that give value-added, create new ideas, and work effectively.  Consortiums must continually improve in order to justify investments.

  • Desire to Create New Products and Services

There are only four ways to grow one’s business:  (1) sell more products-services, (2) cross-sell existing customers, (3) create new products-services and (4) joint-venture to create new opportunities.  #3 and 4 cannot be accomplished without teaming with others.

  • Opportunities to Be Created

Once one makes the commitment to collaborate, circumstances will define the exact teaming structures.  The best opportunities are created.

  • Strong Commitment Toward Partnering

Those of us who have collaborated with other professionals and organizations know the value.  Once one sees the profitability and creative injections then one aggressively advocates the teaming processes.  It is difficult to work in a vacuum thereafter.  Creative partnerships don’t just happen…they are creatively pursued.

Seven Stages of Collaborating:

  1. Desire to Get Business

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Why not try!

  1. Desire to Garner Ideas

Learn more about the customer.  Each team member must commit to professional development and taking the program to a higher level.  Making sales calls does not constitute relationship building.

  1. First Attempts

Conduct programs that get results, praise, and requests for more.  To succeed, one needs to do more than advertising and direct marketing campaigns.

  1. Mistakes, Successes, and Lessons

Competition, marketplace changes or urgent need led the initiative to begin.  Customer retention and enhancement program requires a cohesive team approach and multiple talents.

  1. Continued Collaborations

Collaborators truly understand teamwork.  They have had prior successful experiences in customer service.  The sophisticated ones are skilled at building and utilizing colleagues and outside experts.

  1. Desire and Support Teamwork

Team members want to learn from each other.  All share risks.  Early successes inspire deeper activity.  Business relationship building is considered an ongoing process, not a once in awhile action or marketing gimmick.

  1. Commitment to the Each Other

Each team member realizes each other’s value.  Customers recommend and refer business.  What benefits one partner benefits each partner.

 Why Collaborations Fail

  • There has been a lack of communication and understanding of each other thereby underutilizing each other’s talents.
  • Participants have had one or more bad experiences and tend to over-generalize about the worth of consortiums.
  • One partner puts another down on the basis of academic credentials or some professional designation that sets themselves apart from other team members.
  • Participants exhibit the “Lone Ranger Syndrome” and prefer the comfort of communicating only one person.
  • Participants exhibit the “I Can Do That Syndrome” and think that they do the same exact things that other consortium members do and, thus, see no value in working together, sharing projects, or referring business.
  • Junior associates of consortium members want to hoard the billing dollars in-house to look good to their superiors, enhance their billable quotas, or fulfill other objectives that they are not sophisticated enough to identify.

 Reasons to give the concept a chance:

  • Think of the “ones that got away”; opportunities that could have been created but the contract was awarded to someone else.
  • Learn from industries where consortiums are the rule rather than the exception (space, energy, construction, high-tech, etc.).
  • The marketplace is continually changing.
  • Subcontractor, supplier, support talent, and vendor information can be shared.
  • Consortiums are inevitable.  If we don’t do it soon and often, others will beat us to it.

 Hank Moore has advised over 5,000 client organizations including public sector agencies, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and 100 of the Fortune 500.  Contact Hank by phone at 713-668-0664, by email at hankmoore4218@sbcglobal.net, or visit his website at www.hankmoore.com

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