We all know that collaboration is important, because we know it gets results. What we don’t always know is what is required or how to get there. This recent article in Industry Week on Collaborative Innovation provided some insight.
The article, which resulted from a survey of 30 global CPG manufacturers and retailers and a panel discussion with Coca-Cola, Aerosoles, and Unilever, highlighted four requirements for successful collaborative innovation in the manufacturing and retail sectors. While they may not form a complete recipe for success, they certainly provide a good starting point:
- Non-Adversarial Mindset
I would go one step further and say that you need to be able to trust the the party.
- The Ability to Learn to Speak “Another Language”
Every profession, and every group, has their own “language”. You are going to need to learn it or you might as well only speak English while your collaborator only speaks Mandarin as the communication gap will be just as broad until you do.
- New Metrics
The metrics that got you to today won’t necessarily be the metrics that get you to tomorrow.
- Willingness to Share IP
Everyone has to bring something to the table.
In addition, the article highlighted four key lessons that you should heed:
- Look for Opportunities that provide Mutual Success.
All parties have to be engaged. This is more likely to happen if it’s a win for everyone.
- Conduct Collaborate Business Planning that Meets the Needs of Each Partner
You need to focus on everyone’s needs, not just yours.
- Build Trusted Relationships
As I noted, you have to go beyond the non-adversarial mindset and actually work toward trust between all parties.
- Get Your House in Order Before Attempting External Collaboration
If you’re not ready to collaborate, your efforts will be for nought.