Let's look at how well your organization is managing its current partnerships.
- Do you have a jointly developed strategic framework in place with
Having a jointly developed strategic framework is important for two reasons.
First, it provides you and your partners with an opportunity to define and
document a clear purpose for your alliance. Second, it builds joint ownership
of the alliance. This is especially important when an alliance was conceived
by one partner who then invited the other partner to join.
- Have you documented your needs based on your business's strengths
and weaknesses and shared them with your partner(s)?
Having your needs, strengths, and weaknesses documented provides an opportunity
for your partners to get to understand you and your business better. It
also provides your partners with information that can assist them in helping
you meet your needs.
- Do you have a measurement system in place to document and track your
partnership's mutual benefits?
Partners often fail to put into place a measurement system to document and
track the partnership's benefits. When there is a perception that one partner
is gaining benefits at the expense of the others, resentment builds, which
leads to mistrust. Documenting and tracking the partnership's benefits to
each partner not only helps measure whether those benefits are being achieved,
it also enables imbalances to be identified--and rectified.
- Are relational expectations documented between you and your partner(s)?
It's important that you document what is expected of all members of the
partnership. Documenting such norms of behavior plays an essential role
in maintaining the partnership's culture.
Members of a partnership change over time, however. As members change, previous
agreements, especially around relational expectations, can get lost in the
shuffle. New members coming into the partnership must be briefed on the
partnership's culture so they have a clear understanding of what is expected
- Do you have a jointly developed partnership agreement in addition
to any contractual agreements you may have?
Partnership contracts tend to define only expected deliverables. Partnership
agreements, on the other hand, lay out the strategic framework, behavioral
expectations, roles and responsibilities, and tasks of the alliance--in
other words, how the partners are going to interact with each other. Here's
another way of thinking about it: A partnership agreement focuses mainly
on process; a contract, on output.
- Do the sponsors of the alliance meet at least twice a year in face-to-face
meetings to review alliance progress and strategic relevance?
For alliances to succeed, the leaders of the partnering organizations need
to be actively involved. Absent leadership dooms alliances. It's critical,
therefore, that alliance sponsors meet at least twice a year to discuss
alliance issues and to plan for future activities.
- Do you measure the relational components of the alliance along with
its economic benefits?
Most alliances do a good job of measuring their economic indicators--the
additional revenue generated by the alliance, the alliance's expenses, the
amount of time spent on managing the alliance, and other cost-related functions.
What alliances don't do as well is to measure the relational aspects of
the alliance--levels of trust, frequency of communication, use of creativity
in problem-solving, ability to resolve conflicts, and so on. The relational
aspects are as important to the overall success of your alliance as its
monetary benefits. In fact, good relations within the alliance ensure that
the monetary benefits will follow.
- Is trust a formal indicator that is measured and regularly reported
within your alliance?
Trust is rarely monitored in alliances, and yet it's key to their success.
People do what they're measured to do. If trust is measured, trust will
- Have the teams implementing the alliance received formal training
on building relationships?
Alliance and partnership building is an unnatural act for most of us. We're
educated, socialized, and rewarded in ways that reinforce our belief that
we must look out after #1--as our business behaviors all too often illustrate.
When push comes to shove, we revert back to these behaviors because they
are comfortable and "feel right." But they are not the behaviors that make
People must learn the skills to build successful partnerships. These skills
are those identified in Partnership Continuum's Six Partnering Attributes™:
Self-Disclosure and Feedback, Win/Win Orientation, Ability to Trust, Future
Orientation, Comfort with Change, and Comfort with Interdependence. Formal
training in these skills gives people the tools they need to change old
behaviors and to build healthy, long-lasting -- and profitable -- alliances.
- Have joint communications and symbols of the alliance been prominently
displayed in public locations? After the alliance has been established,
you must communicate its importance to your organization. You communicate
this message through joint communications and by displaying symbols of the
alliance in locations where people can see them.
Consider, for example, the Northwest Airlines/KLM Royal Dutch Airlines alliance.
No matter where you go in the world, Northwest shares its logo (and vice
versa) with KLM--on business collateral, at check-in stations, and on uniforms.
This symbol reinforces the message that the partners are working together.
To learn how you can establish a Partner Relationship Management program
for your business, visit: www.partneringintelligence.com .