In the past 6 months, how much closer has your SME (small to medium size enterprise) moved towards walking the talk about top-down, bottom-up collaboration? What about shifting your business model to one focused on collaborating with customers on sustainable growth strategies?
When you think about it, that’s a horizontally-focused business development strategy. It has a positive economic upside. If your company is huge, you can focus all day on cross-functional collaboration, without ever moving outside of your corporate culture. It takes a Herculean effort to realize when you are still preaching to your own choir. It takes an equally Herculean effort to extricate yourself from your company’s – and potentially industry’s – status quo.
Many SME’s attended, hungry to gain vendor relationships with the “Bigs.” Their strategy might be better focused horizontally. How can they through-put their business’s core capabilities within their own industry by partnering with SME’s they currently consider to be competitors?
For these smaller businesses, this concept takes an equally Herculean effort. Most of their business models are smaller versions of the Fortune 500’s. These SME’s have more in common with startups and entrepreneurs. That means understanding what is needed to remain nimble in today’s market spaces.
The IBM C-Suite Studies Report, issued end of 2013, focused on the Customer-Activated Enterprise. The study summarizes that deeper levels of collaboration are called for within all companies.
“The C-suite Study shows many convincing reasons for business leaders to intensify internal and external collaboration, and why the most flourishing enterprises are those that break from tradition to form reciprocal relationships with customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.”
Depending on where we sit around our respective C-Suite tables, we see the same things differently. If you are a Fortune 500 company, that table involves lots of folks across multiple global locations. If you are an SME, your table involves individuals who, like you, roll up their sleeves and perform multiple functions including daily firefighting.
It’s difficult to keep your eye on the collaborative horizon when your SME’s viability hangs on tactical headaches like monthly and quarterly accounts receivables. Strategic vision is needed to liberate your mindset from business models which are more appropriate to huge companies.
When you partner with customers and suppliers within your SME network, you collaborate. When you collaborate, your network becomes more robust and capable. When you walk the talk, instead of talking the talk, your business becomes more sustainable. More importantly, you take off your blinders to possibilities and opportunities for growth and expansion. That’s innovation.
Consider the collaborative health of your MidMarket C-Suite. How would you rate it, from your customers’ perspective: from the outside looking inward back at yourselves?
Take your own business pulse. Consider how much more robust, viable and sustainable your company can become by applying collaboration to all of your interactions with internal and external customers.
Babette N. Ten Haken catalyzes collaborative business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, small and midmarket manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU, is available on Amazon.com.