mind your business: Internal Partnering:
Most large organizations employ alliance managers to facilitate external strategic alliances. Yet, oftentimes, little attention is paid to internal partnering. When it is, the HR department generally is charged with the task of improving interdepartmental relationships. And, HR doesn't always have the authority to do what needs to be done.
Recently, I was doing work for a larger manufacturer. The company desired alliance instruction for both external and internal applications. After some investigation, I realized there were two elements within the culture of the manufacturer that stood between where it was, and where it wanted to be.
The first impediment was deeply ingrained in the organization's DNA: the "Good Old Boy" dynamic. This is commonly found in organizations that have been around for some time. It is natural to want to work with people who make us feel comfortable—even if someone newer to the organization might be better equipped to perform particular tasks.
Another problem is the method of compensation for division heads. For example, if the executive vice president is rewarded solely on the performance of his or her division, there is a strong disincentive to cooperate and collaborate with other divisions or business units.
"Good Old Boys" Don't Collaborate
Alliances can be valuable when partners bring their unique differences to the table. These differences generally are apparent in the core competencies of an organization, division or individual. However, when decision-making is left to the "Good Old Boys," developing total organizational value takes a backseat to working with people who increase their comfort level. This "comfort-first" mentality clouds their judgment in selecting others who can deliver innovative value. The result is organizational lethargy and discontentment in the ranks.
Division Heads Who Can't Partner
Where's the incentive to build collaborative internal relationships between business units if success is measured by single unit performance and profitability? Who's going to care about the performance of other business units in an organization unless there are financial consequences? When there is no interrelationship, there is no motivation to collaborate.