Collaboration

Working with others in your value chain to achieve things that your business cannot individually.

Why collaborate

Many of the issues you encounter as you build the sustainability of your value chain can be difficult for you or your supplier to progress alone. Collaboration with other businesses, including competitors, NGOs, government and other stakeholders can simplify the process, and lead to more efficient and effective change that is beneficial for all involved.

Collaborations do not just have to be with suppliers. Leading New Zealand companies are collaborating with competitors or other companies with similar goals.

For example, competitors Sanford Ltd, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and Sealord collaborated with the New Zealand Government and scientists to develop Precision Seafood Harvesting, which is a huge step forward in sustainable seafood harvesting.

How to collaborate successfully

Collaboration is not always easy. Even the most determined efforts can be undermined by a lack of trust, failure to address systemic issues and competitive self-interest.

Establishing a unified vision should be your first priority. It is important to meet with potential collaborators to describe your process, highlight the risks and opportunities you have prioritised, and explain what shared outcomes you would like to achieve.

It can also help to do some initial thinking on incentives for bringing your stakeholders on board, such as increased business, contributing to costs of improvement and the improved environmental or social outcomes.

  Resources

  • SBC's Practical Guide to Effective Partnerships can provide valuable assistance on how to collaborate through partnerships. It contains a number of tools, case studies and insights to initiate and grow partnerships.
  • The WBCSD Guide (page 8) provides useful tips for making the most of collaboration. It recommends reaching a common understanding, expecting a diverse value chain; and reflecting on how to work with competitors.

Collaboration examples


For numerous international examples of companies working together on reducing supply chain risk, see below:

  • Businesses are embedding sustainable activities directly into their supply chain by asking their supply partners to share emission reduction targets and activities. Some examples are described here.
  • Collaborative Action on Climate Risk. Supply Chain Report 2013-14 which places emphasis on the importance of collaboration in the supply chain and takes a wider view of supply chain sustainability.