Three Key Activities for Successful Alliances (465 words)

In an issue of Industry Week, there was an article titled, Collaborating To Grow. Mentioned in the article, was a recent survey of U.S. executives taken by KPMG LLP. It appears that sixty-four percent of the responding executives plan to increase the use of strategic alliances during the next two years. What was not covered was how they were going to make these intended alliances successful.

Through my work with alliances, I have discovered that there are basically three key activities necessary for achieving successful alliances:
1. Finding others with whom you can create mutually beneficial value.
2. Delivering that value to one another.
3. Communicating to your partner the value you delivered.

While I realize you might be think the above is too simplistic, understand that a number of people spend their entire careers working on the fine details.

Finding others with whom you can create mutually beneficial value
Too many organizations never get past this first activity. In searching for another organization with which to develop a strategic alliance there must be complementary core competencies. This means that their circles of interest must overlap, as should their core capabilities. Inherent in the search for a compatible partner is the fear of having to give up a modicum of control. Giving up control is a huge hurdle for many executives.

Delivering that value to one another
This would seem straightforward but the challenge is in understanding what your partner considers valuable. Too frequently, one partner delivers value to another that the second partner did not consider to be of value. Guess what? The perception from the second partner’s point of view is that no value has been delivered in this situation.

Communicating to your partner the value you delivered
Through my work in the area of alliances, I have discovered that about fifty percent of the alliances created are not successful. The primary reason for the lack of success in most cases was ineffective communication. There are a number of possibilities from basic to complex. Many of the successful communication methods are electronic centric.

Additionally, many follow up and feedback methods use the 360-team evaluation style of response mechanism. This allows perceptions of alliance performance in both the macro and micro to be known by all. Once challenges are discovered, repair strategies and tactics can be put into place.

I wish you the best in your definitive actions of developing alliances to grow your business. To offer you a bit of help in the first area–selecting a partner, I will provide you with the first chapter of my book titled, Developing Strategic Alliances. This chapter will give you an idea of the possible types of successful alliances and the reasons for creating them.


Ed Rigsbee is the consummate evangelist for member recruitment and strategic alliance success. He holds the Certified Association Executive (CAE) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) accreditation. Ed is the author of The ROI of Membership-Today’s Missing Link for Explosive Growth, PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances, and The Art of Partnering. To his credit, he has over 2,500 articles in print and countless articles electronically published.

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