According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “collaborate” means:
- to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something
- to give help to an enemy who has invaded your country during a war
- involving two people or two sides who oppose each other
To work collaborative to me (barring seeing your suppliers as your invaded country during a war of contract negotiations) is:
- working together
- building a sense of community for all those involved in a project
- being transparent
- communicating openly
Results: the job gets done, and everyone wins.
To be in an adversarial position means just the opposite. Quite frankly, in my opinion, nothing gets done to anyone’s satisfaction!
I’ve always believed in working in a collaborative group. Do I always want to work with all my suppliers again? No, but for specific projects, many are my partners in success. If I work together with them, there is so much less aggravation and tension, and the result is a job well done.
In an adversarial situation, if I exert my “power” as the paying customer, I would daresay the suppliers would take a different viewpoint. I’ve seen it happen when a planner dresses down a hotel worker for not doing such-and-such. A nasty look, disrespect and the overall lessening of getting the job done is the end result.
No one wins, no one is happy. Adversarial pay may come into play. Well, we know this company doesn’t see us as a partner; we know there will be grief – let’s add grief pay. Is that ethical? Good business? Of course not and it does happen. The opposite happens when there is a reputation of credibility, partnering, respect. I’ve seen suppliers add an element or feature in at minimal or no charge (obviously depending on what it is) because it will increase the overall event’s effectiveness – truly showing that everyone is a partner in the final process.
Planners, suppliers, you are your own integrity, your own reputation. Be collaborative and much more will get done, in less time, with less aggravation and a more successful project. I say we ban adversarial relationships in a business that depends so much on relationships and partnering.