Carefully manage the group throughout the cross-industry innovation process. Retention and exclusion are two key aspects in this regard. Of course partnerships can be a sensitive subject. Therefore, look for ways to strengthen group ties and to handle group conflict.

Do you still have the right partners on board? Answer these five questions and get some tips to improve your partnership.

Does the partnership provide all the expertise you need?

Your job as a manager of a cross-industry innovation project, is to form a strong team of partners with complementary skills and knowledge. Your team should be up to the task. Various phases of the project may require new expertise. Ask yourself if you have everything (everyone) you need, or if you should attract new partners.

Do the partners convey their information openly, truthfully and on time?

Mutual trust is crucial to retain partners in a cross-industry innovation project. Build your relationships and your network on trust. Clear guidelines can greatly enhance the sharing of information. A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is recommended to help create and sustain trust between partners, but this not enough. Open communication is another prerequisite.

Do all partners agree on a set of consistent and accurate rules for collaboration?

Good agreements make good friends. This rule of thumb also applies to cross-industry collaborations. Make sure your partners agree up front on a set of rules to build and maintain trust. These rules should be ethical and unbiased towards any of the partners.

Do you have partners on board that do or add nothing?

Get rid of partners who add nothing, do nothing, refuse to be open, lack commitment or even hamper the cross-industry process. Of course, this is a touchy subject. Handle it with care. If a partner breaks the rules, the partnership should be able and willing to discipline that partner according to the rules agreed to beforehand.

How do you handle conflict situations?

Building and maintaining trust between parters is a crucial aspect of cross-industry innovation. Keep this in mind when dealing with conflicts that may arise during the process. First of all, find ways to prevent conflicts. Good communication helps to detect problematic situations before they get out of hand. When things do go awry: involve all partners in finding solutions for group conflicts.