the doctor Goes Mental on Myths I: Collaboration & Knowledge Sharing

The elephants in the room and the barney deals aren’t the only problems plaguing our industry. Dangerous myths are constantly infecting the minds of those who will listen to the fear-mongers and the melancholics. Some of these myths are fairly well known, like the myth that once prices are locked in a contract after an e-Auction, those savings are guaranteed. But some of these myths have not been adequately exposed, which is not surprising as some myths are still being promulgated by the major vendors (like the myth that a “supplier network” has value in and of itself and that a supplier should pay for the privilege of just being a member).

Thus, in addition to exposing the elephants in the room, no matter how quiet they are or how hard they try to hide behind that floor lamp, I’m also going to tackle some of the more dangerous myths now and then. Today I’m going to make Skeptic, who apparently didn’t like my Feel-Good Friday post on Collaboration, happy and admit that collaboration and knowledge sharing doesn’t necessarily add value.

I know right now you’re probably still in shock from that statement, especially since I constantly promote how valuable collaboration and knowledge sharing can be, so I’ll give you a few seconds.

Okay. That should be enough time. That’s right, what should be among the most valuable activities you undertake does not necessarily add any value to what ever it is that you’re doing. The reality is that a collaboration initiative or knowledge sharing initiative, like any other initiative, is only valuable when done right.

Specifically, collaboration will only be valuable when it is undertaken with honest intentions and each side makes a genuine effort to make it work. Just like you can have a barney deal, you can have a barney collaboration project. Each side sits down at the table, says they’ll work together, but then goes their separate ways and rarely says two words to each other again. That’s not collaboration. That’s lip-service.

Collaboration requires both parties to work together as a team on a regular, often daily, basis. To jointly plan, implement, and monitor the project. To work together to identify a problem when it arises as well as its solution.

Similarly, knowledge sharing will only be valuable if real knowledge is shared that’s relevant to the project or problem. Simply sending over the contract that was struck the last time the project was undertaken with no accompanying explanation or twenty documents that may or may not be related to sourcing direct materials is not knowledge sharing. That’s nothing more than a data dump. And a rather useless one at that.

Knowledge sharing requires actual knowledge to be shared that is relevant to the project being undertaken. It requires the knowledge to be in a form that is digestible by the party that needs the knowledge. Furthermore, it requires the amount of knowledge to be appropriate. Too little knowledge and the recipient will be left more confused than before she started the project. Too much and the information overload will prevent the right knowledge from being appropriately absorbed.

Do you have any myths you’d like the doctor to go mental on?
Send them his way (the doctor <at> sourcinginnovation <dot> com).