Alliances & Partnerships

As the world grows more complex, and competition becomes both sophisticated and global, alliance and partnership thinking is increasingly important to any commercial organisation that is seeking to grow its market share and influence. For any organisation with existing partners, success lies in building a closer alignment between your objectives and theirs. For any organisation without partners - your future success will almost certainly depend on how quickly you reconsider your position. (For more on partnerships, click here).

There are a number of tools on this site to help you to clarify your intent with regard to your partners, and to develop shared objectives for the areas where you most want to focus on working together. Some of them are explained in two case studies.

The tools that are shown on the 'Alliances & Partnerships' panel of the Big Picture are:

SWOT analysis, a mechanism for reviewing the partnership in terms of its (S)trengths, its (W)eaknesses, the (O)pportunities that are open to it, and the (T)hreats which are likely to face it as it moves forward. This simple tool can be a very powerful mechanism for bringing issues out so that they can be addressed. Our preferred approach is to split a large piece of flipchart paper into four (labelling each quadrant as S, W, O or T as per the symbol on the panel) and then getting the different partners to place up their views using different colour post-it notes for each partner. Similarities and differences can then be discussed, prioritised and worked upon.

Partnership Alignment Grid, like the SWOT, is a four quarant diagram, where partners place post-it notes - but in this case they are post-it notes that reflect the objectives/deliverables that each partner wants of the partnership. Partner 1 places their post-it notes along the left hand Y axis, and can only move post-it notes vertically (according the Partner 1's perceived value - Up is high), while Partner 2 places theirs along the bottom X axis, but can only move post-it notes horizontally (according to Partner 2's perceived value - Right is high). Each partner can move any post-it, but only in their direction, and so post-its can only arrive in the top right quadrant if they are valued by both partners. Movement is initially silent and then discussed - thereby refining and gaining agreement on post-its by discussion and understanding.

Venn Analysis, is similar to the Partnership Alignment Grid but is used where there are 3 Partners in relationship each with the other - Acceptance of another partner's objectives (because you value them) is by moving them across the boundary of your circle. Further explanation and supporting slides for both the Partnership Alignment Grid and the Venn Analysis can be downloaded by clicking here (185KB PowerPoint File)

The Partnership Planning Workshop is a structured event which uses tools like those listed above to develop closer understanding, a shared set of objectives, and role clarity between two or more partners. It is a tremendously powerful way of identifying, realising and leveraging the potential and synergies of the partnership - and of building a strong commitment from all the parties involved.

Pages 455-470 of Managing by Design are covered by the two case studies:Making Alliances Work and Leveraging Partnerships which are both pdf files of c. 180 - 240 KB.

Chapter 9 of How To Build A Better Business can be read as a pdf file by clicking here.

Blank templates of this panel can be found in the Big Picture Storyboard file - these can be used to capture your own experiences and progress in this area (by annotating them either in PowerPoint, or as a printed panel), and then to physically cut and paste them onto the Big Picture to create your own storyboard of implementing systematic management in your organisation.

To explore another secion of the big picture, please click on the relevant area of the image below:

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