Many companies, like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, owe their success to strategic partnerships. Partners helped these companies develop new products, enter markets, and beat back competitors, and this is the purpose while building partnerships. However, not all partnerships succeed and can be a lot of fallbacks. Prior to choosing a partner, you need first to decide strategically – what kind of partner you need in order to promote the goals of your company.
The must have in every partnership is the joint value created: one plus one equals three. And the value sharing equation should work the way that each partner gets enough of a return in order to be worth enough to keep working together.
Five steps are critical in the lifecycle of every partnership:
- to clarify for yourself what you want to achieve through the partnership. Why do you need a partner in the first place? What are your goals and how does the partnership fit in your business strategy? This step helps you see where your partnership can create new value.
- to choose your partner wisely. What do they offer? And do you think you can agree on how to work together? This step helps you set up the right conditions for the collaboration.
- to set the terms of the deal. This step shapes the way you will work together in the future. Step four is to manage the partnership over its whole life. This is not just a step, but something that you will do for the duration of the partnership. It is the heart of what we call alliance management. Step five is to earn your share. This, too, is more than a step. It means to keep an eye on the benefits that your organization receives from the partnership. None of these five steps is more important than the others. Companies have come to me for help at each stage. You may be well along on some but need to invest in the others. Just don’t skip a step. For each step there are practical tools and tips that are easy to learn. I’ll provide these tools and tips as we dive deeper.
- to manage the partnership over its whole life.
- to earn your share.
Although all the steps are equally important, the first one is the one which will lead the following steps. The steps which follow will rely and be based on this step. So – how do you really decide what you want to achieve? This question is very wide since in order to have an answer you have to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your company/product, your competitive advantage in the market, trends, opportunities and risks. You need also to define the vision and the mission of your company, to understand and to visualize where exactly you see yourself and your company in 5-10 years, what are the core values that you cherish and will impact your decisions. If you are going to achieve your vision, carry out your mission, then you need to define where you are going to focus and what priorities you will set. This leads to long-term and short-term goals to be set and achieved.
Long-term goals define where do you want to be in 3-5-10 years and Short-term goals are those goals that you are going to focus on first, those goals that actually close the gap, moving you from current state to desired state.
Many people “afraid” of this term – “strategy” and try to escape it since they think it is theoretical and indeed the crucial step is the implementation. In order to get it implemented – the goals have to be measurable – what exactly do you want to achieve, how you know when you achieve it and within what timeframe.
Only now, after you have defined your goals – you can get back on thinking what kind of partnership you need (if any) in order to achieve your goals, in order to achieve it more quickly or may be even to leverage it.
This period of time, almost 3rd year of Covid situation, is full of uncertainties and is very unstable and the challenge is to see and to take into consideration every possible scenario, how it might impact your company/product – will it still be relevant in any situation? Will it be possible to market? What is the right way to market and sell the product in every situation? And then of course – how the needed partnership will simplify the way?