Strategic alliances are in the news every day. And why not? Partnering is a fast way to reach new markets, tap into new talent, and generate new ideas and offerings. The cost is lower than building or buying, and less risky, too. Unsurprisingly many sales scenarios are heading in a similar direction.
But a lot of the potential value never materializes. A shocking 60 to 80% of business alliances fail to meet their financial and business objectives.
The answer lies partly in a lack of partnering skills — something called “Partnering Intelligence”. It’s a core competency that translates bold promises into true value.
These competencies are actually measurable. Every executive, manager, and salesperson has a quantifiable “PQ” or Partnering Quotient. Much like an IQ, it measures how smart someone is about partnering.
The other major reason partnerships fail is that they don’t follow a sound, disciplined process for guiding people and teams through the predictable stages of partnership development.
Just as there is no engineer who would just throw two production lines together and expect to achieve optimum performance, taking two organizations and simply putting them together without analysis and structure is unlikely to maximize the partnership’s synergies.
People with a high PQ, on the other hand, do what it takes to implement the necessary organizational and cultural changes to make the new alliance work smoothly. What are the attributes of a high PQ?
- Ability to trust. Do you give people your trust, or do they have to earn it? This is probably the most important competency. Without this, most alliances are doomed to sub-perform or fail.
- Comfort with change. Are you comfortable changing not just the status quo, but your status quo?
- Comfort with interdependence. Can you allow your partners to accomplish their assigned bits, even if they don’t do it the way you would?
- Self-disclosure and feedback. Can you easily disclose and articulate your needs, as well as express your appreciation or disappointment?
- Win-win orientation. Do you employ a problem-solving approach that creates wins for both partners?
- Past/future orientation. Do you look to the future rather than the past in evaluating your business relationships?
These critical attributes form a validated system of behaviors that creates healthy, thriving partnerships. Partnering attributes can be measured and learned. Combine these with defined processes for implementing and guiding your alliances, and you have a repeatable formula for success.
In the end, businesses don’t partner — people do. Companies that build effective partnering competencies in their workforce will fare much better than their shoot-from-the-hip counterparts in achieving success from their business alliances. Rather than simply studying the numbers and potential benefits associated with a business alliance, they focus on the core competencies and processes to consistently build effective partnerships.
And their bottom line inevitably reflects this.
Developed from an original article with kind permission of Doris Nagel from Globalocity