The blame game and collaboration

This afternoon while in the car I was listening to a conversation on the radio. It was about the fact that the Dutch Railways were having serious troubles when the snow struck the Netherlands a couple of months ago. They simply were not prepared for this kind of weather and had serious issues. Now they plan to raise the price of a ticket and so the debate was whether that is fair or they should focus on raising quality first. During the discussion it came up that the Railways were not the only one responsible for the problem but that large part of the problem was with Prorail their infrastructure provider.

What amazed me about the conversation on the radio was that it quickly went into a “blame game” again. In other words: who was to blame for the fact that these two parties in a collaboration could not effectively work together to keep the trains running on time.

When your alliance has a critical milestone to achieve the last thing you should think about is who to blame for missing the milestone. And that milestone can be anything, ranging from delivering a product to the on time availability of trains. The two organizations need to collaborate in order to achieve that milestone. Their teams need to be closely aligned and communicate frequently, while keeping the satisfaction of the end customer in mind. In the example the customer of the infrastructure provider are the railways, however the end customer is the passenger using the railway system. That’s right they use the system and not just the railways. So the system needs to be aware of that. Measurement in the partnership agreement need to be focussed on that satisfaction of the end customer, when focussing solely on satisfaction of one element in the chain it will be unlikely to lead to satisfying end results.

It reminds me of my Alliance Conversation with Anoop Nathwani, where Anoop is now in the purchasing department of Nokia transforming supplier relationships into collaborative relationships. When focussing solely on the price in a purchasing department the results will be lower than when emphasizing on innovation, collaboration and the end customer satisfaction.

Important element to consider for your (next) alliance: focus on the results of the overall alliance, keep the end customer in mind! Let alone that looking for someone to blame rarely leads to a solution.