mind your business: Partnering for Profits
I like to call alliance success, "Partnering for Profits." Unfortunately, a frequent alliance success pitfall is attempting to make your partner in your image—one who acts, thinks and follows your methodology. In the short-term, it may appear to ease the rocky road of alliance governance, but what it really does is minimize the value your partner delivers in the union. You initially were attracted to your partners because of their core competencies and the belief that, together, value-added synergies would be created and deliver benefits to both. So, what are you trying to change?
In setting up an agreement with a prospective partner, first develop an integrated strategy that works with both parties' current processes and methodologies. Successful cooperation and collaboration is necessary before the function of the alliance can proceed.
Cultural, Strategic and Operational Fit. Distinguished alliances require a reasonable cultural, strategic and operational fit. However, they don't need to be exact replicas. The cultural fit is about how compatible the management teams and corporate cultures overlap and how well they can work together. The strategic fit is determining how well the objectives of the participating partners align. Opposing corporate strategies can handicap even a well implemented alliance. Operational fit is the trickiest. How complementary are the business models, processes and methodology? Notice I stated "aligned," and not, "the same?" With alignment there can be differences, yet cooperation and collaboration.
Partner Due Diligence. Be honest with yourself and your potential partner(s) as to your expectations, your own capabilities and what you are looking for from them. In the partnering arena, there is a misguided belief that one's partner will get better after the alliance is implemented. Choose wisely in the beginning.
New Alliance Tools for Smaller Organizations. For a long time, alliances were only within the grasp of larger companies with even bigger budgets. Social networking has opened the door for smaller companies. Many savvy smaller companies are using Facebook and LinkedIn for alliance success, especially in the areas of governance and implementation capabilities. As the social networking sites are now allowing greater control over privacy, they become even better alliance tools for smaller businesses. A little bit of creativity can go a long way.