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Saying 'I do' is just the beginning...

Success Factors for a Powerful Partnership

One of the things I love most about weddings are the positive vibes. Newlyweds share the same dreams, have big ideas for the future, and have great expectations of their life together. That’s also how many business partnerships start. There are many parallels between a marriage and a strategic alliance. In a marriage each partner has its own background and culture, a separate career, an individual account, sometimes a different name but there is a collaboration when it comes to household and kids. In a strategic alliance two or more companies continue to exist as separate entities but they decide to collaborate on a certain topic or project. So, let’s have a look some of the success factors for a powerful partnership.

Before reaching out to a possible partner, you need to get your alliance strategy right. Make sure there is internal alignment about what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. When you are thinking about things such as gaining competitive advantage, addressing a new vertical market or developing a new product you have 3 options: doing it yourself, buying or collaborating. Those are strategic decision so make sure you get executive buy-in at this stage.

Once you decided to pursue a collaboration with a certain partner, make sure you are crystal clear about your reasons for partnering. The objectives of both companies don’t need to be the same, but they need to be in line. For example; for one partner the partnership can mean getting access to sales channels, while for the other partner access to IP is the main reason for collaborating.

Another critical step in developing a successful partnership is ensuring a three-way value proposition. The partnership needs to deliver value for your partner, the customer and your own organization. Help the partner create value and rapidly generate business: it will be the beginning of a trusting relationship.

For a partnership to succeed it is very important for partners to value trust and show respect for each other. Keep your ego in check and stop talking about ‘we’ and ‘they’. Talking about ‘us’ will build a bridge and help you reach your goals faster. Clear and open communication is also a very important in order to avoid misunderstandings and prevent surprises.

Just like marriage, partnerships need to be cared for to succeed. It’s about finding ways to get around dilemmas and disagreements, about sharing the highs and the lows, learning from failures and celebrating successes. Next week my husband Wim and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary, cheers to our successful partnership!


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