Partnerships, like all relationships, don't live on paper alone. They need to be nurtured, maintained, given solme TLC. To ensure success in our external relations, including strategic partnerships, we need to look Beyond formalities and due diligence,
In this article I'll provide some insight into a recent experience I had with the loss of a strategy partner and offer some guidance for maintaining healthy partnerships.
I remember the somber tone in the office as it sunk in that one of our largest partners had, after years, decided not to continue working with us. Together we had created events, co-hosted webinars, and co-authored some milestone research.
We quickly moved into full damage control. After rounds of ambiguously-worded, faintly-optimistic emails, followed then by desperate phone calls that reached the highest echelons of the organization, we still didn’t have an understanding of what went wrong.
I knew our contact personally and in an effort to salvage our partnership, invited her to lunch. After catching up on personal stuff, between salad snd entree, I gently steered the conversation to business. Without mincing words, my lunch companion - the target of my mission - explained that the partnership simply wasn’t delivering.
They no longer saw value in our current arrangement and it was proving to be a waste of time, effort, and money. She also remarked that that there was some animosity around the workload. The partner felt that, unbeknownst to them, they would inherit most of the heavy lifting.
This wouldn’t be an easy fix. It wouldn’t be solved then - or by the time the bill arrived. The door was left open should we find some new, more engaging way to partner,
We both agreed that partnerships needed to be deeper, richer, and more involved and cooperative than simply slapping on a logo - or hyperlink - and hoping for the best.
I believe this partnership failed because
While the partnership was a good fit - both partners work in the same area and are part of an established system of partnerships. Check. All the more, may I say, to look deeper into and consider if and how your adding value to a partnership.
Where this partnership failed was due to value creation, maintenance, clear expectations,
Partnerships, whether community or business, are no longer a feel good ‘nice-to-have’, but a critical requirement, and for some, a matter of organizational survival.
Cultural fit, risk appetite, sound business case
Make sure each party will bring value and identify clearly what value they will bring. Allow each partner to practice what they do best. You’ve identified them as a strategic partner, after all.
Related to the point above, through the discovery process and clearly define who will do what. Defining the division of labour will set expectations and
Partnership building is the process of discovering and determine who will does what. This polices will help define Outcomes, Expectations, Accountability, Division of Labor, Communication, Timeline, Conflict Resolution.
No disappointments and mitigates against misunderstandings
Evaluating and maintaininencw
Partnerships don’t live on paper. Beyond due diligence.
Sources and further reading