If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings. -Welsh Proverb
Let the sword decide after stratagem has failed. -Arabic Proverb
I have heard it said that in an ideal marriage one partner is blind and the other deaf. There may be some wisdom in this old saying. To keep your strategic alliance alive and healthy, each must overlook some of their partner’s misgivings. This chapter, if you heed the advice, will help you to avoid many of the relationship challenges. It will help you keep your alliance relationships on the smooth road to success.
Regardless of how you view the world, (the glass is half-full or half-empty), if you enter into a strategic alliance relationship you must focus on survival of the alliance in good times as well as bad. It can be mutually expensive, in costs, time and emotions to break up an alliance. Your goal is to build Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) with your alliance partners. If you build relationships that are so successful, neither would ever consider breaking them up.
Your Total Value Package (TVP) that you offer your partner, and your partner offers you, is crucial to the alliance success. When you understand what, your partner needs, and then give it to them, you in return can also ask for extra value. The best way to do this is through regular Relationship Value Updates (RVUs). Quarterly RVUs are preferred, but semiannually are acceptable if you are serious about building OSRs.
The idea here is to limit the negative conversations you, or your partner, have about one another when expectations are not met. Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations are common in alliance relationships. Think for just a minute, would you, about the worst boss you’ve ever had. See him or her having one of their famous temper tantrums. You know what I’m talking about, when their face turned bright red and the veins in their neck popped out. See them in your mind’s eye. Now! Here’s the question, is there a chance that boss could have been a decent human being? Your answer, is the conversation you are having with yourself about them. Who knows? Maybe they were just taught old X Theory management (where one treats their employees like mindless idiots) when they were young and it stayed with them. Your alliance partner and their organization have regular conversations with themselves about you and your organization. You can limit the damage and take care of things early with RVUs.
The most effective way to administer RVUs is for you, and your partner, to (hopefully quarterly) complete the RVU and send it to the other. For alliances of larger organizations and/or with several departments involved, each department should do the same. This will help both sides to understand the conversations that their partners are having with themselves about them. Additionally, when you realize that some of the things you are doing for your partner create high-level value for them and it costs you little, you may be inclined to do more of that. Conversely, when you realize that some of the things you are doing for your partner creates little value for them and costs you a bundle, you’ll quickly cut back in that area.
Relationship Value Update (short form)
|1. The value I believe my company has received from our strategic alliance:
2. The value I believe you have received from our strategic alliance:
3. Improvement action steps we plan to take to improve our performance in our alliance relationship.
4. Improvement action steps we would like to see you take to improve our alliance relationship.
Relationship Value Update (long form)
- The value I believe my company has received from our strategic alliance:
- Have helped my company’s core competency.
- Have created valuable synergies for my company.
- Have helped us reduce costs.
- Have helped us in reducing duplication of effort.
- Innovations discovered with your help.
- New markets you have helped us to access.
- Competitive situations (both established and emerging competitors) you have helped us to overcome.
- Other valuable benefits we have received.
- The value I believe you have received from our strategic alliance:
- How we have helped your company’s core competency.
- How we have created valuable synergies for your company.
- How we have helped you reduce your costs.
- How we have helped you in reducing duplication of effort.
- Innovations we have discovered for you and/or helped you with.
- New markets we have helped you to access.
- Competitive situations (established and emerging competitors) we have helped you to overcome.
- Other valuable benefits we have delivered.
- Improvement action steps we plan to take to improve our performance in our alliance relationship.
- Improvement action steps we would like to see you take to improve our alliance relationship.
In addition to sharing regular value updates with your alliance partner(s), each adhering to a Partnering Code of Conduct will lessen the need for conflict resolution strategies.
Partnering Code of Conduct
- Be the kind of partner with whom, you’d like to partner.
- Ethics and morals are important.
- Respect others, their beliefs, customs and policies.
- Think as a member of both your alliance and your industry.
- When in doubt, don’t!
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.