9Foster Collaboration

STEVE FORTIN, COO OF SIERRA CASCADE NURSERY (SCN), set out to repair and solidify his company's relationship with their largest customer, Driscoll's. The companies shared a commitment to producing the highest quality products using the most sustainable practices available. But they lacked alignment in how to achieve this common purpose. Steve Griffiths, nursery vice president for Driscoll's of the Americas, also wanted improvement in the relationships between SCN and Driscoll's team members. The past few years had been plagued with misunderstandings that resulted in costly business mistakes. Communication breakdowns and sloppy handoffs had compromised the level of quality each organization delivered.

Trust was at an all-time low. People were jumping to conclusions, misinterpreting email exchanges, withholding information, and assuming the worst. Past mistakes on both sides loomed large, fueling unfounded suspicions about underlying motives. Finger-pointing and unproductive negativity gripped both teams.

Both Steves agreed that persuading team members to work together was a top priority. Sierra Cascade, in the role of vendor, took the lead. The objectives for fostering collaboration, as outlined by Steve Fortin, included:

  1. ➤ Being more transparent and explaining what we're doing before we do it.
  2. ➤ Showing respect and stop reacting like victims when our customer makes strategic decisions we don't agree with.
  3. ➤ Understanding the impact of our decisions on ...

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