It is always an opportune time to consider the possibility of joining with others to create the future. Many of you are rethinking strategies in the current business environment. As you take a new look at the external factors (market conditions, competition, trends, demographics, and target markets) consider the benefits of strategic collaboration.
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Fish in the Sea.
At first think broadly about all of the opportunity for collaboration-clients, competitors, people in your business network, other areas in your company, suppliers, those who serve similar clients, even community groups.
To help identify the characteristics of your “ideal” partner start by taking a closer look at the people and organizations you work with today. Determine which relationships are working the best, and then examine the qualities of these relationships.
What are your strong areas of interest? Who compliments your strengths? Who is most likely to benefit from doing business with you? Know the value you provide to your clients and business partners. Who can you help most based on your background, experience and education. Focus on identifying potential collaborators who offer you the highest probability of success.
Take It Slow.
Many of us are feeling very risk averse right now and are being cautious. Now is NOT the time to push fast, superficial relationships. It is however, a great time to find the right business partners to grow with in the future.
There are many ways to try out ‘collaboration’ without much risk. The web offers a wide variety of places to meet others with common interests in a ‘shared space’ online. www.yahoogroups.com hosts hundreds of groups where likeminded people discuss topics, voice opinions, share knowledge, and grow ideas. Find a group you might be interested in, and try it!
The more you can learn about your potential partner, the greater the chance of making the right decision about a long-term relationship. Ask questions about goals, ambitions and values. Listen for where you might complement each other and create a future together.
By dreaming together you create the possibility to achieve a richer, fuller result than you could achieve on your own. In an exciting book entitled The Collaboration Challenge, James E. Austin, the author, talks about the tremendous opportunities for business combinations between nonprofits and profits. “The twenty-first century will be the age of alliances. In this age collaboration between nonprofit organizations and corporations will grow in frequency and strategic importance.”
Happily Ever After.
If you are seriously considering a partnership, conduct a strategic planning process together. Create a common vision, strategies and goals. With agreed upon priorities and plans you will start off with the right level of commitment. Agree to a process for ongoing communication and information flow.
There are of course no guarantees! By working together to create solutions in anticipation of the future, you increase the possibility for success.
Recommended Books on Strategic Collaboration:
- The Jericho Principle: How Companies Use Strategic Collaboration to Find New Sources of Value
- Strategic Alliances and Marketing Partnerships: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through Collaboration and Partnering
- The Collaboration Challenge: How Nonprofits and Businesses Succeed Through Strategic Alliances
- Collaboration and Co-creation: New Platforms for Marketing and Innovation
- Strategic Alliance Management
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