New opportunities through cooperative skills

Two currents can be identified: Companies are increasingly specializing in order to develop unique assets, and they are networking more with each other to complement each other.

Specialization can unlock know-how and cost advantages, and standardization can better exploit the experience curve, but this highly tailored focus often also implies specific investments that can make them inflexible. Many companies compensate for the lack of flexibility caused by specialization by flexibly integrating their “modules” into different service provision processes in the market. In this way, supply chains are transformed into supply networks, some of which are formed on an ad hoc basis.

With modular products, you reduce complexity and create flexibility just as you do with modular organizations. For the latter, project organizations and exceptionally also fractal organizations can be appropriate. For this, you need a pronounced ability to cooperate as well as trust and vigilance.

For flexible integration in different value creation constellations, the particular challenges lie in aligning the interests of the cooperation partners and in the ability to dock smoothly with other organizations in terms of personnel and with suitable (IT) interfaces. The paradox is that the most robust and resilient companies are not those which are deployed in defined value chains with defined performance contributions, but those which continually network dynamically and flexibly and work in an agile manner.

Collaborations are becoming more relevant. In order to keep the start-up times and efforts for new collaborations manageable, good project management (5.2.7) is essential over and above flexibility. Agile project management has proven its worth for collaborations in terms of joint product development. This places demands on the leadership attitude and on the decision-making process. The regulation of agile collaboration can be achieved through ongoing feedback. Communicative feedback in control loops with a stabilizing effect thus becomes a very central element.

Cooperative working in networks also requires more agile controlling and particularly mindful risk management, which should be organized in as bottom-up a manner as possible. Practice-proven methods are a strategic risk self-assessment and an operational risk self-assessment.

In cooperations, the protection of intellectual property rights also becomes more relevant. These immaterial assets become relevant latest in technical due diligences.

Cooperations open up interesting strategic opportunities that you would not be able to tap on your own.

However, do not underestimate the dynamics in a network of companies collaborating in an agile manner and continuously try to capture and exploit the possible effects of communicative networking. Also use simulation applications that are commercially available for this purpose, or work with modelers to keep track of the development possibilities. Game theory can also provide important guidance for rationally sensible behavior in collaborations. Game theory models can also be used for negotiation.


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