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Friday 31 May 2013

Avoid relational lock-in

Given enough time and collaborative activity even the fiercest of rivals can become that little bit too comfortable with each other for decency. At the very least, partners that have invested a great deal of time, money and resources in each other can be very unwilling to admit that their relationship is past its sell by date, persisting with it and investing ever increasing resources in return for ever decreasing benefits. In these circumstances they will very quickly find themselves experiencing unhealthy and unproductive 'relational lock-in'.
Toyota’s practice of using senior and junior supplier partners is a good example of how to keep partner relationships healthy, flexible and dynamic, so minimising the risk of 'relational lock-in'. The junior partner will always be keen to impress; the senior partner can never become complacent about their status (whilst simultaneously having to treat the junior partner with fairness and respect, taking into account their mutual relationship with the client).

Various Local Government Authorities now maintain and indeed publish listings of potential partners and suppliers, demonstrating an awareness of the wider network of businesses and organisations that surround them and broadcasting their willingness to take advantage of the opportunities presented by new and innovative partnerships and relationships.
The most successful IT and Biotechnology companies continually scan the wider network of activity in their sector, looking for new blood with which to infuse their existing innovation platforms, partnerships and alliances.

Identifying and taking advantage of new partnering opportunities will help avoid relational lock-in and help maintain and enhance organisational flexibility, one of the key advantages of collaboration. It will facilitate the timely exit from stale, non-productive collaborations and the swift creation of fresh, dynamic and achieving ones.

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