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Saturday 7 March 2015

Bite-size pieces: the 'Faulty Toymakers'

A well-known toy manufacturer believed it was gaining positive value by partnering with foreign toy makers that promised to supply quality toys at reduced cost. However, a significant number of these foreign partner suppliers were unable, for whatever reason, to meet the required manufacturing and safety standards. This meant that paint with a high lead content was used in the manufacture of some toys, making them dangerous to children's health. 

Rather than contributing the promised positive value in the form of cost savings, the foreign toy makers (by not adhering to agreed standards) contributed negative value in the form of dangerous products.

'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners can be actual, as per the above example, or they can be a metaphor for some other service provider or product manufacturer. They tend to emerge when a partnership relies heavily upon contractual obligations to ensure compliance with agreed standards and obligations, rather than upon the quality and closeness of personal relationships between those involved. Such a reliance causes defensiveness amongst partners, who become anxious about the legal consequences of not delivering on their contractual obligations. This, in turn, leads to reticence about sharing difficulties and admitting mistakes. In some circumstances it may even lead to dishonesty and illegal cover-ups.

To avoid 'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners encourage and reward openness and honesty and discourage and, where necessary, punish non-transparency. Make it clear that help will be given to overcome honest mistakes, especially if partners are willing to declare and share them.

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success
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