Collaborative Partnerships

Collaborative Partnerships

Margaret Pagel

May 31, 2012

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind , too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. Charles Darwin

Let's face it; we all aspire to engage in collaborative partnerships with our clients. We aim to make certain our clients think they are number one, that we add exceptional value to their projects, and that we will consistently exceed their least that's what we sell them. So the question becomes: do we actually implement the steps to ensure this teamwork? And what does a collaborative partnership really look like?

Let's begin with a description.

A collaborative partnership is when a group works together in a joint intellectual endeavor that pools common interests, assets, and professional skills in order to promote broader goals and outcomes for the entire group's benefit.

The most important element of this kind of partnership is to realize that organizations don't collaborate -- people do!

Next, we might consider a few of the key attributes to acknowledge in a collaborative partnership arrangement:

  • Mutual support and awareness in common, defined goals
  • A willingness to work toward an agreed upon purpose
  • Respect and the ability to recognize the expertise of all team members
  • Knowledge as a priority over titles or roles
  • Transparency in all aspects of work and communication
  • Staff development as something that is open to all individuals
  • Respect and courtesy for all
  • Acknowledgement of the fact that everyone gets better service because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Trust

The organization I work with subscribes to a collaborative partnership model. We only enter into agreements with our clients with defined expectations and a willingness to share ideas, resources, and responsibilities. Our business model allows our client to drive their own budgets and velocity of their projects while we guide the process. We acknowledge that a high level of trust is essential to success. We know that if we provide value, and expect value from our clients, we will enter into a mutual trust arrangement. Trust leads to respect, a willingness to help, and a pathway to the desired mutual outcomes.

I am in sales, so a collaborative partnership is the ultimate goal I strive for with each client. Each engagement in my organization starts with a collaborative conversation of how we are going to work together and the associated responsibilities of each party. Our team brings software development expertise to the project. Our first goal is to discuss with our client partners the expertise they bring to the project and coordinate all our skill sets (basically identifying strengths of all the team members and making certain each member on the project team will be able to utilize their expertise to the fullest). Next we discuss the steps that will be followed in building the software project. We deliver our software in weekly iterations, which allows for a great deal of team collaboration. Everyone is knowledgeable and all/any concerns are addressed by the team on a daily basis at our stand up meetings. Our next steps are to build stories/features to complete each week. Stories/features are discussed and written by the team collaborating on the stories and the acceptance criteria. Once the stories are completed, we show a demo of the completed software at the weekly team iteration meeting. Once the stories have been accepted, the process starts over and a new weekly iteration is planned. By working and iterating in short intervals (weekly), the communication process is maximized, concerns can readily be addressed and all team members are participants in the collaboration process.

Everyone can agree that there is no magical formula for success because each collaborative partnership is unique as the individuals that participate. However, success has a higher probability if people share values, purposes, and collaborative skills.