Imagine this. Your alliance has begun to meet its strategic objectives – the ones envisioned way back at the beginning of the alliances development process – and at the same time, the partnerships are flourishing and authentic engagement is happening. Meetings aren’t perfect but the relationships you have formed are fully capable of holding the problems. In other words, your relationships are so strong that you don’t necessarily have to solve all the problems right away before you can continue with the real work of the alliance. The solutions you have achieved have led to success in the marketplace, and to a real company full of people creating something worthwhile together. Basically, you have achieved your goal of building a successful and productive alliance.
So now what? What do you do next?
Simple. Let people know about it! Share the Kool-Aid.
What do I mean by “Share the Kool-Aid?” Well, think back to when you were eight or nine years old. Can you remember a time when you would run in from playing outside in the summer heat, only to find that your mom or dad had made a nice pitcher of cool, sugary Kool-Aid? If you were anything like me back in those days, you would probably be so stoked that you would drink three or four glasses of the stuff right then and there. By the time you’d drank your fill, you’d be climbing up the walls with joy, giddy from the sugar.
Well that’s exactly the kind of feeling you should be having by the time you realize that your alliance is up and running successfully. You should be giddy as a child all hopped up on Kool-Aid. And once you’ve embraced that feeling, you should be more than willing to share it with everyone you meet. Let others know exactly why you’re experiencing that sugar-high-grade rush you used to know as a kid. Tell everyone what happened to make you so “geeked” out about the success of your alliance. Celebrate your alliance, both within your organization and outside. Tell everyone who will listen exactly what you did to make your alliance so successful. Build your PR through an internal campaign. Make it real and compelling – use it to illustrate that your alliance and the partnerships behind it are more than just that, more than just the strategic development of some high-powered executive, simpler in that it is essentially a core set of people who had an idea and found ways to make it happen. Together. In the end, make it your goal to demonstrate that you’re here for something else, something that transcends the making of money and the meeting of objectives.
Sharing the Kool-Aid. Yes, I know it sounds a little kitschy, but the point is essential. If enough people are sharing the Kool-Aid, there’s less of a chance of just writing off all the work and more of a chance of having it happen and keeping the momentum. As we’ve discussed, alliances and partnerships are precarious things; if you don’t manage the conversation and carry the story within and outside your organization, how can you take all that’s been created to another level? How can you make alliances a core area of strategic business development – and in fact, maybe just maybe, a new paradigm for advancing the practice of business itself?
So build the PR campaign. Invite others to learn about alliances and what makes yours tick. Show them how they work and the successes that you’re bringing to the table. Show the process for true partnership and collaboration. Talk about the pitfalls and the nuances to human relating and team productivity. Build the storyline to enhance and begin developing a portfolio of alliances. Maybe even over time, the corporate mantra can become one of collaboration across the corporate value chain, building partnerships with all key stakeholders. After all, the practice of creating partnerships and alliances happens all across the internal corporation. Maybe just maybe, in your successful partnering with another firm, you will begin to show how you can partner with people closer to home.