Partner or Die

More and more, market leading, profitable companies — with amazing cultures and visible, strong core competencies — are failing to achieve their potential. What’s missing? More often than not, they have neither mastered nor embraced one of the most important skill sets: partnering. Those who develop this expertise will succeed. Those who fail to do so will die.

Partnering is the ability to share control of some aspect of the value chain with another organization to deliver your company’s brand, product or service to customers. Partners can appear in all forms in a business. Licenses, joint ventures, distributors, contract manufacturing, fulfillment houses, software developers, customer service centers, marketing agencies, and revenue affiliates — the list of potential partners has grown dramatically in the past two decades. And that’s the whole point.

Of course this concept is not new, particularly in manufacturing. Take for example GE and France’s Snecma. For nearly 40 years, these two industrial giants have worked together to develop some of the world’s most sophisticated commercial jet engines. Independently, neither company might have achieved so much. Together, they’ve consistently delivered a world-class product.

But their success does not dismiss the fact that a lot of great companies just cannot partner well – and here’s why. Almost inevitably, at some usually unnoticed turning point in a company’s growth, crucial arteries start to harden, and the formula of a well-defined culture combined with winning competencies not only stops working, but almost drives a company to systematically lose in certain situations. Simply put, great partnering isn’t even in the heart of the company’s intentions.

For instance, if the music industry had embraced the technology start-ups that could have ushered them into the 21st century, they probably would not be selling the rights to songs on iTunes and Spotify for pennies on the dollar today. Barnes & Noble decided to go it alone with the Nook, its late entry into the e-book revolution, when partnership would have been a more logical choice.

Partnering is the fastest, most-effective, lowest risk way to solve for nimbleness and growth. It brings new knowledge, skills sets and opportunities to your organization fast. The catch, of course, is that you can’t just snap your fingers and create a lasting, productive partnership. Human nature – pride, confidence, success and skills — are exactly what gets in the way. It takes real work to build flexible, open and adaptable teams.

Moreover, the commitment must come from the C-Suite. Leaders need to ask themselves and their organizations tough questions: Do we put a premium on the “ability to partner” in our culture and with our people? How can we overcome the natural instinct to define “our way” of doing things as the best? Do we measure our ability to partner — and to what degree do we hold our people and teams accountable to do so?

The bottom line: Partnering needs to become a core competency – well-resourced, culturally central, reinforced with appropriate metrics. You will need a “partnering” team to help identify the skills required, review opportunities, make the big decisions, and drive “partnering” and alliance management as a way of being throughout your organization. Otherwise, your once great capabilities could become great liabilities.

Globalization, technology, financial instability and other risks demand the ability to create value and seize opportunities wherever they are found, beyond manufacturing, to the core of revenue production, around the world. In other words, it’s partner or die.

By : Bill McComb – Linkedin Article


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