Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Collab

It seems that whenever my teenager turns on the radio the song isn't one from a single artist, rather it's usually a pairing like Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg (pictured above) or Rihanna and Eminem.  I don't recall this level of collaboration among musicians when I was a teen - it seemed like the musicians I heard on the radio were working away in their studios by themselves and the extent of collaboration would be to invite a less established act to open for them on tour (which didn't seem very collaborative based on my limited sample of popular concerts).

My week was bookended by two drastically different takes on collaboration.  Early in the week I finished reading a book by Paul Midler,  'Poorly Made in China', the story of a supplier-customer relationship that started well enough but then goes awry in just about every way possible.  Rather than collaboration he describes furtive attempts on the part of suppliers to cut costs in all areas regardless of the impact on the customer's expectations for the final product.  This insightful account is sometimes funny but when you think that the 'quality fade' he describes isn't limited to supply chains delivering haircare products but may extend to food and pharma supply chains, it makes one pause (I blogged earlier this year about the New York City crane collapse that was caused by an inferior crane component made by a China-based manufacturer).

I spent time later in the week at the Conference Board SRM Conference and had the privilege of hearing thought leaders in the area of Supplier Relationship Management share their ideas.  Jonathan Hughes and Jessica Wadd of Vantage Partners did a great job of presenting their knowledge and experience in this area as well as facilitating breakout discussion groups.  I also served on a panel with John Caltagirone and Kirk Weidner, moderated by Rick Blasgen of CSCMP, presenting the supplier point of view.  We all agreed that a collaborative approach with strategic suppliers will benefit the supply chain's competitiveness.  Although collaboration was the word of the day no one said it was easy - most attendees shared challenges in their organizations related to Change Management, control of IP, lack of Executive Sponsorship, and poorly implemented enterprise systems (who doesn't have these issues?) but all have made serious commitments to furthering relationships with their suppliers to drive innovation.

I'm glad that collaboration is occurring in both music and industry - the world surely is a richer place because of it.  Let me know your thoughts on how collaboration is impacting your organization or industry in the comments below.  Thanks!