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November 16, 2016

Creating a Culture of Collaboration @Work – 7 Steps to Start the Journey

Collaborative Leadership at Play

Collaboration is the buzz word of the 21st century and for good reason. Today employees work on all kinds of teams and cross functional groups to help firms remain agile and productive in response to market change and global business complexity. This basic fact of work-life places the necessity to build a culture of collaboration at the forefront of work.

Still, to produce a culture of collaboration we need to begin with new ways of thinking about collaborative leadership and as a result, employ new methods to support collective success.

Firstly, consider that collaboration is fundamentally a group activity. As such, creating a culture of collaboration does not arise from implementing individual-leadership programs only. Certainly individual leadership is helpful and supports collaboration to emerge, but unfortunately a group of strong individual leaders does not magically result in collaboration.

This is the primary challenge to creating a culture of collaboration. It happens at the group level only. When groups come together to work, they relate by communicating, feeling, coordinating activities and experiencing both explicit and implicit challenges. These dynamic interactions are generated by the group and through the group. Yet, they remain hidden from group itself. The group simply can’t see what they are producing, because they are in it, creating it from moment to moment.

Haven’t you experienced this? You reflect on a meeting you had, left wondering “what the hell actually happened?” You reflect how you felt, what you saw, what was said but you lose sight of what occurred. You are simply left with questions and feeling of productive meeting or left drained and withdrawn with a sense of “the same old thing”.

Just like individuals grow from leadership development coaching to see blind spots, groups similarly need facilitation and coaching when they actually engage in work.

To enable a culture of collaboration at work requires a new approach. Here are 7 steps to start the journey toward the destination:

  1. Begin by recognizing that collaboration only happens at the group and team level, when groups come together to work.
  1. To guide groups to collaborate, use trained facilitators whose role is to challenge the group to step out and engage each other directly and honestly, coaching the group to build the collaboration capability in the work-place.
  1. Spend the time necessary to meet regularly face-to-face to build the group muscle for continued group collaboration in the act of actually engaging in work, rather than attempting team leadership retreats that take groups away from learning to actually work together. Offsite team retreats unfortunately remove teams from learning to collaborate when it counts, in office conference rooms and corridors.
  1. Identify and refine group practices such as ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ processes, reading chronologies of past meetings, that help to establish a “field of relationship” over time with specific cultural norms meant to optimize discourse, cooperation and most importantly learning.
  1. Encourage real conversations, not your typical “being the devil’s advocate… blah… blah… blah” instead prompt groups take responsibility for opinions, thoughts and actions.
  1. Remove the use of qualifiers and insincere business jargon that’s unclear. Ask for simple strait forward communication where clear requests are made and ideas and opinions are genuinely owned.
  1. Focus efforts on helping teams cut away what is not relevant and not necessary to the task. This means supporting groups to be able and willing to draw boundaries and limits. Often determining what is relevant and not relevant spurs “conscious conflict” that opens deliberation and the intensity needed to enter true collaboration. Collaboration never emerges sitting on your laurels.

When you arrive at this destination of collaborative culture what you find is this:

Groups and teams demonstrate flexibility. Participants take on different social roles to actively adapt to challenges in the moment, irrespective of seniority, authority or place. Emotions are expressed openly that lead to collaborative conflict. At this destination new ideas emerge, where greater cooperation and learning is ignited. Allowing teams to develop the capability to cut away unproductive work and focus on the essentials excelling at the tasks set for themselves. Overtime, strong group relatedness helps tackle business challenges, not perfectly or seamlessly, but collaboratively.

At the end, building a culture of collaboration can make work more meaningful, productive and mostly enjoyable, leading to organizations that are more resilient and able to consistently adapt to market change. Yet, make no mistake; the journey requires effort, consistency, diligence, courage, commitment, conscious effort and a helpful guide along the way.


May 27, 2016

Five Secrets to Enabling Highly Collaborative Ecosystems

ecosystem

There is much talk about business ecosystems as the newest models for collective collaboration across industry, geography and culture.  These ecosystems are considered important not only because value chains and supply chains are outsourced and fragmented, but also due to the speed in which markets change and new competitors literally pop-up. Today, key partners once operating at arm’s length around short-term contracts need to be closer and more responsive than ever, while also connecting with others actors once considered tertiary.

In addition, ecosystem models are being conceived to take advantage of new opportunities being created by broader interconnections. Interestingly ecosystem development is now not only reactionary to market change, but decidedly proactive. For example, who would have ever thought that a tech company such as Google would produce cars and perhaps compete with the largest of automakers, all the while cooperating with several of them on developing self-driving technology?

So here we are. Companies today need consistency, reliability, commitment and capability to react quickly in a system of greater connection, volatility and competition, while simultaneously looking for more sustainability, resilience and greater permanence.

Luckily, today, we not only have the wherewithal to envision business ecosystems, but also the technical and operational capabilities to blue-print, develop and enable their emergence. However, if not well-conceived, companies involved in making them a reality, particularly firms in the ‘center’ of the ecosystem may not access the benefits that a truly well designed ecosystem can bring.

At the end of the day, the devil is not only in the structural details, but also in the fundamental social contracts between the partners who participate in the ecosystem and choose to contribute collaboratively to its emergence.

These tried and true secrets, stemming from my recent book ‘Enabling Collaboration’ will help to build the kind of ecosystem that can self-correct and self-sustain in times of market change and dynamism that supports all actors’ success.

Build the Social Contracts as you build the Structure of the Ecosystem: this means sitting with the key ecosystem stakeholders, those that perhaps currently are part of the ‘supply chain and value chain’ and those that may lie right outside it. For example, customers, the public sector and NGO’s may make sense. In structured Partnership Innovation Sessions, establish the ‘basic operating principles’ of the ecosystem, founded on the affiliation and membership goals of the groups working through the details.

Create the Emotional Connection of Real People Co-creating Together: building a sustainable ecosystem does not happen in a vacuum but through the people who contribute to its design. To do this, bring diverse stakeholders who are an integral and vested part of the ecosystem to build the social fabric and the structural elements. Invest the time and effort for these relationships to be woven together in a productive and authentic fashion.

Use Principles of Ecosystem Sustainability:

  • Fair Distribution of Resources: Almost all ecological ecosystems use sunlight as their energy resource, in our case, sunlight is attune to money, and the fair and sustainable distribution of such value is fundamental to ecosystem design.
  • Establish Formal and informal Feedback Loops: All ecosystems have cycles of waste and replenishment of nutrients. Dealing with waste and other environmental concerns are part and parcel of ecosystem design. In addition, this includes creating formal and informal feedback-loops architected into the ecosystem where all actors can communicate and contribute to improve and better its operability.
  • Design Economic Resilience into the Ecosystem: resilience can happen serendipitous through the basic interconnections between the actors, or consciously through insurance products or savings accounts. The ecosystem actors can draw upon these resources during challenging times, or for investments in new shared technologies and capabilities.
  • Include Diverse Actors: All ecosystems depend on bio-diversity. For business ecosystems this includes ensuring that all touch-points of an ecosystem have some way to contribute to and get benefit from being part of the ecosystem. Benefit in this case, can be monetary, social or informational.

Leverage Technology but Don’t use it as a Replacement for Human Interaction, leveraging technology is a critical component for designing ecosystems and enabling participant stakeholder-partners to adapt to just-in-time learning, connect and communicate directly with all ecosystem participants. However, technology and systems do not replace people talking with and connecting together and coming to terms on challenges the ecosystem faces.  This way it can up-level to better designs and improved overall functioning.

Seek out Third Party Objective Partnership Facilitator, Collaborative Leadership, regardless of size, from the smallest of groups to the largest of complex multi-stakeholder ecosystems requires the help of a skilled objective third party. This third party, as a person or team of conveners, guides groups to see relational blind spots between partnering organizations. These unseen elements if not proactively addressed during the development phase, ultimately leak to the detriment of the system. It happens time and time again; groups don’t express grievances or concerns openly and still cooperate, ultimately unresolved issues cause greater problems down the line. Partners may try to win-over on the system, or worse, use unresolved issues as justification for inaction, lack of true collaborative participation and ownership.

What from this post could you take action on right now to improve or begin building your ecosystem?

What examples of ecosystem design can you share with the community that readers could learn from?


October 30, 2015

“The Fighter” – a Story of Group Collaboration

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Yesterday I watched the movie “The Fighter”. A 2010 boxing film nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

You may be wondering why I would write about boxing as a metaphor for group leadership and collaboration, particularly since boxing could be considered the quintessential sport of the individual. Continue reading and you’ll see.

In “the Fighter”, Micky Ward played by Mark Wahlberg is the younger brother of boxer of Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale.

As you probably remember from the film, the group-family dynamic revolves around the relationships between the mother Alice Eklund-Ward, her seven daughters and her two sons, Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. The family group is plagued with defeatism, choosing favorites, poverty, drug addiction and small town pressures. The mother, acting as Micky’s boxing manager, favors her oldest son Dicky whose career has ended. Micky Ward’s career is on its last leg, fighting in his early 30’s, wanting to succeed but not knowing how and relying on his family for support.

The family dynamic plays itself out early in the film. Dickey and Alice conspire (a pattern that feels historical) to convince Micky to fight an opponent 20-lbs heavier because the family needs the money. Needless to say, he loses the fight and is pretty beaten up. His hometown reputation as a stepping-stone-fighter persists and his familial role as the young unappreciated scapegoat perpetuates.

All groups fall into these relational dynamics where people take on certain relational roles that solidify and do not allow them to adapt to the realities of life and be successful together. In the movie, it is no different.

The family group is faced with a dilemma. Micky is still young and a talented boxer, but the family maintains it hierarchy where Dicky is the family favorite. How does the group help Micky be successful in his goal to become a boxing champion, when Dicky remains in this role and the family continue using Micky without regard to his welfare?

All groups must work through their relational dynamics and resolve dilemmas faced. In this way the group must accommodate to reality and allow differing roles to emerge between them so they can actively accommodate to the challenges and realities they face.

The movie comes to a head when Dicky recently released from prison, returns to the gym to train Micky. Charlene, Micky’s strong “take no prisoner” girlfriend expresses her disagreement to letting Dicky coach, and abruptly leaves the scene.

Here is where the group begins to work-out their dilemma and real change begins to emerge.
Dicky walks to Charlene’s house to ask for her support. Charlene tells Dicky how much she hates him and how Dicky is clearly a bad influence given his years of addiction and complete lack of accountability to Micky. Dicky rather than getting defensive makes it clear he is willing to change and help Micky succeed.

It’s the perfect exchange, an amazing moment of entering collaboration. They don’t necessarily like each other more, but through their affiliation, by their love for Mickey and to his success and their shared membership in a family, they are able to move toward greater levels of relatedness and therefore collaboration.

Charlene’s dislike for Dicky takes a back seat to her love for Micky and their shared desire to see him succeed. She remains steadfast to Micky by letting go of being right and demonstrates her willingness and openness to accept Dicky’s decision to change.

What binds them is their interest in a shared task – to support Micky to win. They don’t have to like each other more, or be best of friends, they simply have to find a way to collaborate. After some back and forth they agree to work-together to help Micky win.

Enrique Pichon-Rivière the group theorist whose theories I apply in my Strategic Alliance’s book ‘Enabling Collaboration’ would agree that there was a fundamental shift here. One centered on the group going through a change process where Dicky chooses a different path, lets go of past group identity and finding new way to support his younger brother by no longer having to be the center of attention.

From a group perspective, this change process opens the capability of the family to work together in a different way. Change always supersedes collaboration and real emotive-communication is the gateway.

When communication is clear, direct and authentic, albeit at times crude, it creates a possibility for change. Through such authentic communication, the group, working as a system of relationship (Diky, Charlene, Micky & Alice), is able to modify itself according to the challenges that reality places on them to be successful. Fragmented, no-one wins, but together where their capabilities are used fully they can all succeed.

The movie ends with the group supporting Micky to win the next two fights and come away with a 7-figure payout.

In “The Fighter” like in all other sports, there are group dynamics that contribute to an individual’s accomplishments and as a result group success as well.

It is no different in developing business partnerships and alliances, there is always a process taking place underneath in the system of human relating. A process of relatedness and group collaborative leadership, where a group of people that work together toward a common set of shared objectives and goals find ways, from a purely relational point of view, to make it happen. Communicating what they think, learning together what will work and accommodating through a change process to arrive at a self-correcting and self-generating strategic alliance and partnership.

In my book, Enabling Collaboration (www.enablingcollaboration.com) I share methods and practices for the “partnership journey”, in fact half the book is dedicated to this essential part of Collaborative Leadership, critical for “Achieving Success in Strategic Alliances and Partnerships”. The other half focuses on a business process employed for optimal outcomes. Some essential take-away to keep in mind:

• Alliances are all about collaboration and collaboration always includes groups, therefore group relatedness is equally important to the business process and terms being negotiated.
• Appoint a group facilitator to help the team traverse the difficulties of what happens when people come together to create an alliance.
• Develop group meeting practices that help to build the groups cohesion.
• Build the reason for partnering, the productive relational dynamics before you negotiate the deal.

Order ‘Enabling Collaboration’ @ Pre-order Prices – 25% OFF and learn a new method for the emergence of group leadership.


September 11, 2015

Burger King | McWhopper Proposal – Collaboration or Consternation?

I was speaking at Florida International University yesterday when a student showed me the recent Burger King proposal. Wow! How innovative, I thought. Burger King, headquartered here in “good olé” Miami created a well done proposal to collaborate for one day with the idea to end the “Burger-Wars” and build a bridge of possibility between the World’s two largest fast-food burger chains. While the marketing was well executed from a look and feel perspective, it was spear-headed only by Burger King. The campaign even had a wonderful logo and an even more convincing you-tube video that included Jeremy Gilly, the founder of ‘Peace One Day.”

Perceivably, all that McDonalds had to do was say ‘YES’, and they would in essence become the relationship linchpin to shift from war to peace. It’s all up to you Mcdonald’s to save us all from war! I guess to make the world a better place, while Burger King ‘essentially did all the work’ and put McDonalds in the place to decide between the two.

At first, I thought what many people might consider, ‘Why not say yes?”, but after some thinking, I changed my mind. It’s not that I like or dislike either one of them. I enjoy a good Whopper and a nice Quarter-Pounder equally; neither better nor worse than the other. Perhaps some collaboration between the two chains is not such a bad idea–in fact, I think a very good one. I would enjoy trying the “McWhopper” – it would have been fun, yet alas, if it had worked, I’d have to fly to Atlanta…. It would have been much better if the project was farther reaching.

So at the end of the day I say, NO – this unfortunately is not “collaboration”, but worse “consternation.”

Why you may ask?

Because there is no relatedness between Burger King and McDonalds, there is no shared vision and shared co-creation and commitment for such a great idea – and a great idea it remains. But, alas the execution is horrible. In fact, it turns out that the blogosphere and others simply call it a publicity stunt. I say, it’s in fact worse than that. It demonstrates a unilateral act, the same unilateral acts that cause wars in the first place; those are seemingly peaceful but in fact underneath actually very aggressive.

Collaboration occurs when two companies, be they competitors or not, as the case between McDonalds and Burger King, have to enter a place where relationship takes place, where an invitation (in private) can happen between the two and where McDonalds can freely choose to participate. Once commitment to collaboration can be developed, they could have then developed something together, not designed solely by BK but where co-creationship could have emerged.

Instead we are left with a Whopper being shoved down McD’s throat to the consternation of their CEO saying, “Hey, why no phone call?” Too bad!–Another failed attempt at collaboration because of a lack of process founded on building relatedness. The turbulent Burger Wars prevail! How sad.


January 6, 2015

Strategic Alliances: Not so Niche Anymore

I’m constantly surprised by how many people view strategic alliances as a niche practice. I hear it all the time and particularly when introduced at parties with other executives. When I speak at events, I’m often introduced as an expert in a niche area. Although I often wonder how they can consider Alliances and Partnerships as niche. Especially in today’s business climate whereit’s easy to see that forming alliances to conduct business is far from being niche. It’s not simply a new way of doing business. It’s the way of doing business in this day and age.

Take a look at your current business. What key relationships are critical to your business? What would happen if you lost your most important clients, or suppliers – your most important strategic collaborations? The truth is that not all business relationships are equal; some are more important and more strategic than others. And for some companies, building strategic relationships is the name of the game.

The fact is that even the largest of companies, such as Nike, Boeing Unilever and others, now focus on their core competencies and work with a global network of strategic suppliers and partners to bring products and services consistently to market. From product design to the sourcing of raw materials to production, and across channel relationships, partnerships and alliances are interwoven throughout all supply and demand elements of corporate value creation. They are a key component of their supply and value chains, making them more resilient and more competitive at the same time

Take Unilever, for example. In 2009 and 2012, Unilever launched plans intended to decouple Unilever’s future growth from any negative environmental and social impact. The company, which operates in 190 countries and sells to 2 billion consumers globally, worked on several multi-year strategic alliances to help it reach its goals.

In 2010,Unilever signed a multi-year partnership with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to reduce carbon, water and waste footprint across its manufacturing sites. By 2015, because of a unique value chain partnership with the NGO Rainforest Alliance, Unilever will source 100 percent of all tea for its Lipton and PG Tips products from certified growers and by 2020, all of its of tea will be sustainably sourced.

They have also partnered with competitors such as Nestle, Danone, and The Coca-Cola Company to form a plant-based bioplastics alliance to look for alternatives to petroleum-based products. These strategic collaborations make Unilever’s supply chain more sustainable and, as a result, more resilient to the uncertainties and ambiguities of a complex and interconnected global economy. The result, Unilever has developed Collaborative Advantage, a capability to create strategic business relationships that build competitive resilience across all its business lines.

The truth is, opportunities for collaboration are almost limitless. From international go-to-market partnerships to research and development alliances that reduce costs, today’s companies are partnering across all parts of their value chain. They do so to access new markets, reduce costs, and become more nimble, more competitive and more innovative.

The numbers speak for themselves, today as much as 25 percent of corporate revenue and value is tied to alliances, up from only 2 percent in 1980. Since 2000, international alliances in the form of joint ventures grew from US$5.2 billion to US$12.1 billion in 2012. Strategic collaboration in the form of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships is not a niche practice; it’s a new way of looking at doing business and it’s here to stay.

So I’ll say it now and at every party from now on, Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, Not so Niche Anymore!

 


March 27, 2014

YouTube & Viacom Choose Collaboration over Litigation

If there was any doubt that we are now squarely in the age of Collaborative Capitalism, then last week’s settlement proves that we certainly are. After 7 years of legal rigmarole of the landmark copyright lawsuit between Viacom and YouTube has now resulted in Collaboration! Is that right, the firms decided to Collaborate rather than Litigate? Yes.

In the 2007 lawsuit, Viacom had accused YouTube for posting its programs without permission and originally filed for US$1 Billion in damages. Now, Google and Viacom said in a joint statement, “This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.” (John Stemple, Reuters, March 18, 2014)

Content providers and service providers are realizing that working together makes more sense rather than spending valuable resources litigating.

The rules are changing and companies in many industries are following through on these collaboration trends.

To do so, Emergent companies are extending alliances across all areas of their value chains. Also, Networked centered firms are building completely new industry networks and ecosystems. Both are using collaborative approaches to business, including business collaboration processes, unique leadership training and tools that support effective partnering.

Perhaps companies will soon realize that the collaboration experts are really the Alliances & Partnership Developers, Managers and Executives?

And it is they, which will pave the way toward success in these new Collaborative Capitalism models of the 21-Century. Not only will their expertise be used in traditional alliances making, but across a wide range of partnering activities establishing completely new approaches to business practice and building real-value along the way.


February 15, 2014

Creating the Conditions for Trust

Two weeks ago we talked about Trust as something that is co-created by the teams throughout the Alliances Development Process and the importance of Authentic Engagement.

The building of Trust is the responsibility of everyone in the partnership. During the Alliances Development Process, Authentic Engagement is slowly encouraged by the support of the Alliances Facilitator who helps by establishing the Alliances Field of Relationship, where productive social contracts are established. The field is simply the practices used by the Facilitator that create the conditions for Authentic Relationship and Trust to emerge along the Journey.

These include:

  1. Beginning each meeting with a Check-In and a Check-Out.
  2. Setting the Intentions, Principles and Priorities of each working session.
  3. Working with Time, Rhythm & Pace, depending on what is actually happening in each moment.
  4. Working with Tone & Emotionality to shift structure and enliven real conversation.
  5. And creating the right atmosphere by choosing the right Place and Space, having the right Nourishment, Materials & Media and Room-Setup.

All these activities need to be aligned to what is actually happening in the group’s relationship and where the team is along the Partnership Journey.

Over time, the alliance group will begin to model the Authentic Engagement that builds ongoing Trust. This includes:

  1. Engaging others with your full-self, being-real (not hiding behind your role, position or company)
  2. Showing Vulnerability (stating when you do not know something, and asking for input and expressing things openly when you do)
  3. Speaking for your own self, sharing assumptions, revealing desires and expressing what you can and can’t do.
  4. Demonstrating Responsibility for your biases and your own reactions.
  5. Showing Commitment to accommodate and work through challenges.
  6. Remaining Curious in finding solutions together and creating collaboratively.

These practices, establishing the Alliance Field of Relationship and the practice of Authentic Engagement relate to the entire life of an alliance, not only during its development. Yet, experience suggests that bad beginnings can make for bad endings, as such, ensuring Trust is established in the beginning phases, is part and parcel of future success.


January 29, 2014

Trust, the “Problem” but not the “Solution”

Everything I read a about the importance of Trust in alliances is right and wrong at the same time. Yes, Trust is important for a partnership to develop and frankly critical for the alliance to be established as a self-generating and self-correcting business. And so yes, Trust is the problem, but it is not the solution.

What is the point here? The point is that when Trust is identified as a separate “thing” from the individuals who are uttering the words: “The problem is that there is a lack of trust,” for instance. That particular person makes Trust a separate entity from themselves.

If that person where to say, “I don’t Trust so-and-so.” Then that person now has something to work with, themselves.

Trust is not an inanimate object, that is located somewhere outside of us; it’s a relational experience in the real world and the leverage lies in each of us to walk the path into Trust, and as a collective team that establishes Trust through group interactions.

The solution is Authentic Engagement.

Authentic Engagement is the capacity of both the individuals and the alliances groups to talk from their own hearts and from their experience in a clear and direct way. It also involves building the capacity to listen and hold difficult emotions and sharp conversations. Leaders need to take the time to listen from the others and slowly traverse the journey away from control and fear toward possibility and opportunity.

If this kind of relating is employed, Trust if slowly formed and the ability for the alliance to truly succeed is greatly enhanced.

That is the kind of leadership needed for Partnership Development.

Attached is a self-observation practice to help begin deciphering how “you” can open your awareness of how you Trust and not Trust. From here you start walking your own process toward Authentic Engagement.

Individual Trust Practice


January 15, 2014

Partnership (yes or no)?

Determining Business Partnership Level

Not all business relationships are equal. You know that there exists a partnership when the companies in the partnership are operating differently than a typical Vendor/Supplier relationship. This treatment can be seen in how they speak about their partnership and how they actually operationalize the alliance. Coherence has identified 4 levels of increasing business partnership interdependence. Used as a conceptual tool it, the conceptual model allows companies to determine which business relationships are partnerships and which are not. It also helps to establish the expectations between companies during the alliance development process.

Level 4 “Vendor Supplier Relationship”
Identifying elements are no special rights granted to either party, no real governance is in place, remuneration is “fee for service” and no revenue share exists. It’s generally a non-exclusive relationship where other businesses have similar if not equal relationship to the company. Many technology relationships really land here.

Level 3 “Strategic Collaboration”
A Strategic Collaboration is one step up from a Vendor Supplier relationship. Here the business relationship is characterized by some special rights that are granted to each party. Some governance is put in place with partial or at least time bound exclusivities are involved and revenue share is put in place. Communications are tighter between the parties and there is longer-term horizon involved. Strategic suppliers tend to land in this level. For example the P&G and Walmart collaboration fits here.

Level 2 “Alliance/Partnership”
Alliances/Partnerships are characterized by a more interdependent business relationship. Here there is everything put in place, less a new company structure. There exist shared investments made to bring new products or new services to market through joint development etc. Profit share can be incorporated with integrated governance coupled with longer term project road-map and long term horizon. Typically contracts run 5 to 10 years and include certain key exclusivities and special rights. Renault-Nissan Alliance is a perfect example here.

Level 1 “JV Equity Partnership / Ownership”
At the top of the pyramid is the formation of an entirely new company. Here you have significant investments, board seats in place as the governance structure and a fully integrated company formed by two or more major firms going to market based on entirely new ventures and strategy etc. Isis, the US mobile commerce joint venture created by AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon is a perfect example of Level 1.

As a general rule, from Level 4 up to Level 1, the Greater Amount of Risk & Investment, the Greater Amount of Say and Subsequently the Higher and more Integrated and Interdependent Partnership and Alliance Structure put in place.

Partnership Conceptual Model


October 10, 2012

How storytelling helps alliances

Before you begin considering whom you’ll partner with – or even where you’re going – you must consider why. You must answer the question: “for the sake of what?” For what reason will you seek to partner and expand into the new and unchartered waters of international alliances? And once you’ve get further into the alliance building process, your “for the sake of what” will need refinement and some reorganization so that it begins to tell a story. A story that combined with metaphors allows you and your partner to share interests and aspirations through a new and powerful dimension. (more…)