Too frequently business people get confused as to the end game. They get derailed into thinking it is the conduit that they want rather than what the conduit delivers. The quintessential story about the ¼ drill; where as one buys the drill for what the drill will get them—a ¼hole in something
Alliances are essentially the same; they just come with more complex instructions. You develop an alliance for what the new entity can do for you and your business. The key here is to remember that an alliance of any kind is not the end game but a conduit for receiving something you need.
Equal is an Unimportant Concept
Alliances done well, will deliver the needed value to all participants. I’m not saying that the value will always be equal—it rarely is. However, if all parties are getting the value they need, than equal is an unimportant concept. What is important for alliance success is that the alliance delivers the unique and special value that generally would not be available through solo effort.
How to Survive Down Times
Article after article, expert after expert suggest lowering costs and hunkering down. Wow, what good will that do? The answer is knocking on doors—literally, or figuratively. How did you start your business? You knocked on doors. How will you emerge from crummy economic times? Positioned as an industry leader or innovator, or as just another player? Just another player is not a great position from which to emerge.
Knocking on Doors
This can be taken literally or as a metaphor for business development. Most large company alliances are generated through the business development silos in their organizations then quickly handed over to the alliance management silo. The point is that you cannot hunker in and cocoon, but rather must venture out into that big bad, mean, business of cold calling and business development. Alliancerelationships are a great conduit for business development. And you just might have to knock on doors to get your next alliance partner.
The end game for any alliance is to deliver value to its participants. This is done through a seven step process:
- Select Alliance Type
Compare a healthy alliance to healthy arteries. If these above steps are carefully followed the alliance built, will he a healthy conduit for value delivery—opposite that of arteries clogged up with cholesterol provided deposits that inhibit healthy blood flow. As mentioned earlier, the value each alliance participant receives does not necessarily have to be equal, but should be commensurate with the assets/resources contributed to the alliance.
When you decide to knock on doors and develop alliances that you believe will deliver value to your organization; keep in mind that what you really want is not the alliance but the value it delivers to your organization. Develop a strong conduit that will not collapse on itself and slippery enough (flexibility) to keep harmful deposits from building up, thereby inhibiting the value delivery that all participants must receive.
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.
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