Friday, June 03, 2005

Partnerships that Work

At the Wisdom Exchange conference on Tuesday (see similar post below), I led a discussion of Ontario CEOs on “Creative Collaborations.” The best part came at the end, when we “whipped around” the table and asked each participant to suggest a personal strategy or tip on “How to Make Your Partnerships Succeed.”

Here’s what they said.

- Ensure that one player in the partnership is dominant - a “partnership of equals” won’t succeed
- Make sure the alliance is a clear win for both (all) participants
- “I don’t think you can partner with a direct competitor.”
- Have a plan. Know what you’re doing and why. Do your homework.
- Be committed. If you have just a casual interest in its success, it won’t succeed.
- Look for the win-win. Understand the motivation of both sides and keep track of it as you go forward.
- Pay attention throughout. Monitor the partnership and keep talking to your partner. “Treat them like a customer.”
- Accept imbalance. “If you are the small guy in that partnership, you will always be the small guy. Stay in that box.”
- Have a third party (neutral and catalytic) to tie the partnership together, keep it going.
- Be prepared to invest resources: money and time. (If the market needs more money and time, be prepared to pony up.)
- To start an effective partnership, especially with a larger partner, “bring a customer to the table. That gets their attention.”

That's it: real-world advice from entrepreneurs who've "been there."

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