Earlier this week, we discussed why moving too fast in alliance negotiation meetings can hurt the partnership building process. When alliance building begins, teams are often more focused on hard deliverables, timelines and agendas when they might be better suited to slow down, attune to the needs of the other, focus on what is actually happening in the room, and work on ways of creating and collaborating together. So how do you slow down? Here are some tips that could help you.
Timing is extremely important in business. Sometimes you can say the right thing to the right people, but at the wrong time, and it all winds up being wrong as a result. And sometimes you can say the wrong thing to the wrong people, but at the right time, and somehow the whole situation leads the right result – Crazy!
The faster you go in an alliances business the greater the risk for mistakes, for missing things, or worst of all, for not connecting enough with your partners to get to the bottom of issues that inevitably come up. Pushing the tempo and attempting to meet deadlines just to close the deal only works in sales and alliances aren’t sales. But this tendency to want to speed things up happens across all levels and at all phases of alliances building process.
When you form an alliance, you’re inviting your partner to build something together. Emphasis on the “together.” And anyone who’s ever been in a relationship of any kind – particularly of the marital stock – knows that togetherness requires transparency. And yet, too much transparency without insight is, well, kind of stupid.
The problem with the typical cotton-candy-and-ice-cream comments regarding transparency is that it assumes there is only one type of transparency: the one where your pants are at your ankles and you leave yourself exposed. But there’s a vast in between.
What does the chicken or the egg parable have to do with alliance development? It has to do with commitment. In my years of negotiations, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about the problem of chicken or egg.
First, we need enough credit cards in the market and enough places to accept them; but if we don’t have enough merchant acceptance points, then the credit cards are useless and they won’t sell; and if we don’t have enough credit cards, then we won’t get enough merchants to join. You can replace credit cards and merchants with any systemic relationship and you’ll get the same thing: the chicken or egg parable, that sense of not knowing what “can” or “should” or “has to” come first in order to make the project work.
On Wednesday, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP) announced the winners of the 2012 Alliance Excellence Awards at a dinner at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. We were sorry we couldn’t be there, but the good news is that we were chosen as the winners of ASAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility award for our role in facilitating a partnership between Scotiabank and Digicel to introduce a mobile wallet in Haiti.
The partnership between the bank and the telecom operator resulted in the successful launch of the Tcho Tcho Mobile e-wallet — a product that allowed Haitians to access and transfer money using cell phones, following the earthquake that hit the country in January 2010. The introduction of the new technology also helped increase financial inclusion in a country where most people don’t have access to a bank or ATM.
We would like to thank ASAP for the recognition. We feel honored to have received this award and look forward to continuing forging creative partnerships.
In building alliances, teams often get bogged down discussing future scenarios before talking about the first steps needed to build the business.
I’ve seen this a lot working in integrated partnerships. Partners focus on what they can do two to four years from now rather than working on the product they’ve set out to create together. In other words, they focus on how they will benefit from future business operations before they even get their first product right.
This may sound trite, but I can tell you that many deals fall on their faces almost entirely because the teams get enamored with negotiating the future without first dealing with the present. There are several ways to get around this common problem:
I’m sure you’re thinking: “Is he serious? Is he really going to talk about chocolate as in an alliances blog?” I am. Chocolate may very well be the secret ingredient to excellent innovation sessions and partnership development meetings. Bear with me. There’s actual data behind this idea.
When forming an alliance, there comes a time when all the talks of visions and opportunities for developing a business together come to an end and partners begin to truly build the business. They can now move from the formalities to innovating and creating together. This is where the magic happens.
We typically hold innovation sessions over two full working days involving everyone – operations, technology, finance, marketing, sales – who will help build ideas, kick the tires of what can be actually implemented and get down to concrete potential projects and products that establish the working model for the alliance.
The first half of the first innovation and co-creation session involves envisioning the potential of what could be. Here, we “set the container of possibility” for the group through presentations given by key members of each team that provide knowledge of the key strategic pieces of the business.
The second session is designed to be what is called a “World Café” session. (more…)
It’s amazing what companies can achieve together with a little creative thinking. I recently purchased the 111 Navy Chair from Design Within Reach. It’s an amazing and aesthetically beautiful product created from a partnership between Coca-Cola and Emeco, a company that has been making aluminum chairs since the 1940s and is famous for its Navy Chair – a chair it designed for the U.S. Navy. You may be wondering what brought together a bottling company and a chair manufacturer. That’s precisely what I love about this partnership.
According to Emeco, Coca-Cola approached it in 2006 with a proposal. The soft drink giant was looking for ways to show the value of recycled plastic so it asked Emeco to make its classic Navy Chair out of recycled soft drink bottles. Imagine that. Coke bottles turned into chairs.
On this blog, I have discussed the benefits of seeking out the underdog, the partner that is going to give it all to drive your company and theirs to succeed, the partner that is willing to collaborate and innovate rather than push an agenda. But that partner must also be the right fit for your company and what you’re trying to accomplish. As in any relationship, finding the right partner plays a key role in the relationship’s success. The question is: how do you find that perfect fit?
Following are five steps that I have found helpful when assessing a potential alliances partner: