Strategic business Partnerships can give your small businesses the edge to help it compete with larger companies in lucrative markets.
Topics: Access to info, >Effectiveness & Efficiency, Innovation, Stability, Reputation & Credibility, Autonomy, Conflicts of Interest, Resources.
Each sector brings a different set of values, priorities, resources & competencies to Partnering. The challenge of Partnering is to bring these diverse contributions together, linked by a common vision – in order to achieve sustainable development goals. Organizations choose Partnering, because it’s the best solution to achieve their desired goals. Their is a level of self-interest in the motivation of both partners. Each partner will need to see benefits from their collaboration.
Advantages in Partnering. Interestingly, the types of benefit that can accrue to partner organizations from engagement are similar for each sector, whether business, public sector or civil society. Such potential benefits include:
- Access (to knowledge): Reducing risk & potential marketing blunders by greater understanding of the operational context
- Access (to people): Drawing on a wider pool of technical expertise, experience, skills, labor & networks
- Effectiveness: Wisdom in creating more appropriate products or services, whether commercial or non-profit
- Efficiency: Reducing (by sharing) costs of processes of product, delivery systems, by avoiding duplication
- Innovation: Developing un-expected / new ways of addressing old issues & complex challenges
- Human Resource development: Enhancing professional skills & competencies in the work force (many Partners report this as a major unexpected benefit
- Long-term Stability & impact: Achieving greater ‘reach’ by a >efficient & >effective means of expanded sustainable development.
- Reputation & Credibility: Achieving great organizational reputation & credibility from a good partner.
Altho’ collaborating, the importance of each Organization’s goals. While it is essential for partners to share a common goal and to agree to the hoped-for outcomes & impacts for their partnership as a whole, it is also important that partners recognize and accept that each partner organization has the right to expect benefits that will be specific to them. When potential partners spend time getting to know each other – thereby deepening their understanding of each other’s priorities – each partner will feel more able to present their specific goals. Increasingly Partnering Agreements reflect the right of each partner to achieve specific goals as well as common goals. The key is to ensure that any specific goals are acceptable (even if not shared) to the other partners and to check that they are not in conflict with the shared goal of the partnership. The partnership as a whole will benefit from each individual partner organization seeing tangible “value-added” to their organizational goals & priorities. It is therefore in the interests of each partner to be aware of & to contribute to individual partner goals – wherever possible.
Dis-Advantages of Partnering. It is becoming increasingly clear that partnering is not a low-cost, quick fix or risk-free option. Indeed the costs of partnering can be high, not least because of the time needed to explore, establish & manage the partner relationships. Potential partners need to consider the opportunity costs and – preferably – establish some benchmarks against which they will measure whether the hoped-for outcomes of partnering are really worth the investment they are making. All too often, partnering in its early stages can be a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. Partners invest time, energy & ideas (often over months & sometimes years) and then continue to stick with the endeavor even when most of the benefits have dis-appeared. This is often because they feel pressure from their colleagues for some kind of return on investment. As an aid to organizations considering a partnership approach we advise an early internal consideration of the areas of potential risk including:
- Loss of Autonomy: the challenge of shared decision-making processes; the need for building consensus with partners before action can be taken + the implications of wider accountability (to other partners & to wider beneficiaries)
- Conflicts of Interest: where a decision or action that is right for the interests of the partnership, but may be at odds with the individual organization’s interests
- Drain on Resources: commitment (often significantly greater than anticipated) of time & energy of key staff in partnership building & project development – in addition to any additional financial or other resource contributions
- Implementation challenges: the day-to-day demands of delivering a partnership programmed as a collaborative venture, with all the additional management, tracking, reporting & evaluation requirements that entails.
- Negative Reputation impact: when partnerships go wrong – causing damage to the reputation or track record of individual partners by association.
Conclusion: the Partnership will significantly reduce Risk, if there is a adequate contribution from each individual partner organization reducing & managing risk effectively. It is therefore in the interests of each partner to be aware of + contribute to lowering the risk for the other’s organization – wherever possible.
Comments: What experience have you had in Partnering with another Organization?
from the Partnering Initiative 7/16 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz