Published on March 7, 2014
Better Together: The Art of Building Valuable Partnerships Kris J. Lichter (MBA ‘97) Co-Founder & Principal DuMonde Ventures Image: Copyright Paramount Pictures
A rose by any other name – what is a partnership? Two or more organizations, teams or individuals coming together to achieve a common goal External or internal in nature Singular in scope or multi-faceted Of any duration Often formalized by a contract or guiding documents
Why do two parties partner? Combine their respective offerings to better address a market or audience need Development of a new product, service or solution Joint marketing and communications Enter or expand in a geography, industry or segment New market development
What are the potential benefits? New customers and revenue streams Increased sales Expanded market share Competitive differentiation Brand equity boost Improved stakeholder satisfaction Reduced resource requirements for a given offering or market More partnership opportunities, mergers, acquisitions
If it’s so great, why doesn’t everyone partner? Organizational culture, mode of operation National cultural norms Fear of commitment Liability concerns Cost Complexity of cooperation Overinflated sense of relevance Lack of vision
Getting started – communicate Spend quality time establishing a clear common purpose or set of goals Make sure you listen to the other party’s point of view – you’ll either understand where they’re coming from now or you’ll learn it later (perhaps too late) Determine the potential value and requirements of a potential partnership – this establishes scope Start small, grow big vs. multifaceted or even multiparty Be honest, be open and be realistic! Note: the above should not be confused with constructing a contract or negotiating terms and conditions
Considerations & components Point of contact (single or by area of responsibility) Operating responsibilities Process and procedure flow Budgets, resources Milestones Timeline Ownership
A word on contracts and negotiating Contracts are not guiding documents – they are instruments of last resort Gather all stakeholder and sponsor inputs and requirements early (pre-negotiation) Communicate internally throughout the negotiation to avoid surprises Mind games and other ‘negotiating tricks’ are simply a waste of everyone’s time – don’t do them
• Seek the ‘rock bottom’ moment. Don’t avoid it. • It’s the true beginning of the negotiation’s end (and the beginning of the actual partnership).
Day-to-day teaming tips Having exceptional people as the leads will make great relationships sing and shaky ones more solid Practice constant, fluid communication - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure Devote substantial energy to getting to know your partners and make it a regular investment A great team isn’t restricted by organizational lines In rough times, don’t default to the contract – a ‘clean sheet of paper’ conversation better enables the parties to find a way forward
Finding operational balance Each organization will bring its own operational bias Branding Clients Executive Geography Product Technology The best partnerships enable and capitalize on the leveraging of each organization’s natural strengths in these areas
Assessing the ongoing partnership Are we achieving our shared goals? Secondarily, are we achieving our individual goals? Do we remain philosophically-aligned? Where is the combination weakest? Is our respective leadership committed? How is the partnership being received and perceived by our stakeholders? Are there new areas of potential emerging?
It’s a marriage – treat it like one Throughout the life of the partnership, jointly seek continuous improvement - it will pay dividends Don’t take the other side for granted, and work to understand their ever-changing point of view Routinely assess achievement against the original goals, and current realities, and adjust milestones and/or expectations Again, constant, open communication is critical to success This includes to all sponsors and stakeholders Consider using external feedback on the partnership to hone strategies, goals, timing or tactics
..And don’t forget to co-brand! Thanks! Kris@dumondeventures.com firstname.lastname@example.org 858-243-1608
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