Whether you call it a partnership, a joint venture, a strategic alliance, or just “working together,” partnerships between two or more entities can dramatically improve your organization’s ability to learn, grow, act, and react in new and productive ways.
Maybe that’s why partnerships have become so common. But partnerships aren’t a new concept. In fact, according to the famous economist, Max Weber, today’s commercial partnerships have their roots in the Medieval era. At the heart of those primitive agreements are legal frameworks that still characterize the basic structure of present-day partnerships.
Working with other people and organizations is a smart way to expand your knowledge base, intellectual capital, capabilities or product offerings, market area, and even your ability to do good. But with all this good, comes work—partnerships don’t grow themselves.
How to Find Prosperity in Partnerships
Similar to relationships, business partnerships can be fragile. Because businesses rely on partnerships to be successful, finding and walking the path that stacks the deck in an alliance’s favor is a frequent subject of discussion. “Coalitions of any kind need to be continually nurtured,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at the Harvard Business School and chair and director of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative.
In order for partnerships to be prosperous, it’s critical to understand how each relationship will benefit your team’s goals and objectives. Kanter proposes “Eight I’s That Make We” to help companies identify and create useful partnership opportunities.
Eight I’s That Make We
Adapted from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor.
- Individual Excellence
Each partner must have and bring strengths and skills into the relationship.
Join only if it is strategic to merge.
The resources brought by each partner must fill existing gaps suffered by the other.
Put skin in the game. Commit capital or assume risks.
Be clear and transparent in all communications to foster a healthy relationship.
Get the organizations together for many points of contact.
Have governance that speaks on behalf of the alliance itself, not just the partners.
Honesty and strong moral principles will guide the actions of the players, building trust.
Using the “Eight I’s That Make We,” from Kanter’s article, “How to Strike Effective Alliances and Partnerships©,” is a good way to start identifying and evaluating partnerships in your industry.