One of the biggest economic trends already taking place is collaboration and sharing. Yes, I know this is well underway and frankly old news. What I’ve yet to see is the collaborative wave to be truly maximised on within traditional large corporates. Like many of you, I’ve worked both on the organisational and supplier side of programme delivery and continually find that contracts get in the way of doing the right thing. The best programme deliveries have been those where the contracts are either put to one side (sorry procurement!), or done in a way which enables the people to work together as a team and all focus on the outcome.
I believe many organisations are really missing a trick here. A different way for suppliers to truly become partners and add exponentially more value could be to create a partner collaboration. Not that dissimilar to the Scrum Alliance Learning Consortium, but one specifically focusing on delivering the organisational vision. This collaboration could work together with the leadership team on specific challenges, have their own work backlog and deliver value on cadence just like the rest of the organisation.
If you’re in a position in an organisation now where you have a particular challenge, rather than pitch the suppliers against one another to come up with the best/cheapest solution, what would happen if they worked together on it? Maybe, getting the best brains from each of these organisations together would be better than working in silos. Some suppliers may hesitate, particularly those with concerns over IP, but I think that’s an outdated view. The new world is about sharing and pooling resources to deliver beyond what you thought would be possible.
I’ve worked with some amazing ‘competing’ suppliers and the big secret is that actually we get on really well, have mutual respect for one another and have frequently worked together on other assignments. In fact whilst chatting over the odd skinny flat double shot latte, we’ve often come up with solutions to challenges within organisations that are pretty cool, but without the culture or forum to share these in they end with ‘ah well, if only…”
Collaboration is the ultimate level of maturity for a partner relationship and is both based on trust and builds trust. But if you have big challenges, such as transitioning from waterfall to agile, embedding innovation or considering new ways to compete in your marketplace, then perhaps it’s worth considering.
From my own personal experience, I believe the supplier community has a significant amount of underutilised passion, care and commitment. This is an untapped source of energy, experience and expertise which when focused together as a team towards your outcomes could be a real force to be reckoned with.