mind your business: Digging Deep
While successful alliances require work and process, the benefits justify the effort. To improve your organization's performance, production and profitability you must do more than just fix a problem. You must burrow deeper and change the system (culture). The following steps will help you to evaluate your system before embarking on your strategic alliance journey:
Study organizational needs through self-analysis. Observe and identify your areas for desired improvement. Develop an organizational evaluation method to be completed by your customers, suppliers, employees and management. This will help you to inventory your core strengths and weaknesses. Which strengths might be valuable to a potential alliance partner? What weaknesses do you want to shore up?
Educate and Contemplate
• Identify other industries that have embraced partnering. Study the individual companies that have been successful in building alliances. Study what worked and what did not. If partnering was not successful, learn and understand why.
• What will it take to change your organization?
• What are the potential obstacles? Is your culture open or closed? Changing a closed-culture organization will be much more difficult than one that is open.
• Has collaboration worked in the past?
• What competencies do you desire in an alliance partner?
• What kinds of (or reasons for) strategic alliances would best work with your culture and/or fulfill your growth needs?
This is the critical step—all your future efforts will be built on this foundation. Learn about those companies you consider partnering candidates. Ask yourself and your management teams these questions: What are their strengths and weaknesses? What effect would they have on your business? Are the company cultures and core strengths complementary? Can the people who will make the alliance work get along? What is the growth opportunity, short- and long-term? Select alliance partners with knowledge, understanding and commitment. You can only partner with a person or organization that wants to partner. It would be a serious mistake to think otherwise.