Are you tired of adversarial business relationships draining your energy? Is
it time to look at a new way of conducting business--one that empowers all
to be more productive and profitable?
If the pain of where you are is greater than the perceived pain of the
unknown, you might be ready for partnering. Partnering is an idea that is
loosely used to describe anything from teamwork to alliances to contractual
partnerships. Partnering, as I define it, is the process of two or more
entities coming together for the purpose of creating synergistic solutions
to their mutual challenges. I recommend you adopt partnering as your overall
business strategy. The benefits are numerous, yet the partnering path is not
without land mines.
Partnering is not meant to be a flavor-of-the-month management strategy
to be hastily adopted and then as quickly abandoned, rather a long term
paradigm for success. Partnering is not instant gratification! To adopt
partnering as your overall management strategy, you’ll need to understand
the Partnering Pentad. A pentad is simply the name given to a group of five.
The Partnering Pentad represents the five key areas of every business, the
areas in which to begin developing your partnering belief and activities.
Once in place, you’ll have Total Organizational Partnering.
Synergistic Alliances is the area of your business where you develop
alliances with outside entities for activities where you have core
weaknesses you desire to shore up and to cut costs. These could include
purchasing, R&D, manufacturing, employee sharing, distribution, marketing,
and advertising. By sharing your core strengths with others and theirs with
you, both can create an environment of synergy yielding each more than the
some total of their collective contributions. Land mines to watch out for
are core values of alliance members being too different, circles of interest
overlapping too little, and continual management change of one or more
Supplier Partnering is an area where much is being talked about. For
companies desiring just-in-time manufacturing (JIT) and electronic data
interchange (EDI) ordering and inventory control, partnering is an absolute
prerequisite. What I hear so often from suppliers about their customers is,
“They’re talking marriage but acting one night stand.” Whether you be a
retailer, distributor, or manufacturer--to succeed and prosper, you had
better start developing long-term relationships with those from whom you do
your purchasing. The biggest land mine in this area is to talk about
quality, delivery, and reliability while only buying based on price.
Remember, there is today’s price but there is also the overall cost--the
overall cost is usually lower through long-term partnering relationships.
Customer Partnering is the area of your business where you must be
outward driven. Your customers will buy from you as long as they feel
they’re receiving good value for the dollars they give you. Value-added is a
term which much is being written about. You must be customer/market driven
rather than product driven to understand what your customers want and
perceive as value being added to your products and services. It costs about
ten times as much to get a new customer as to keep a loyal customer coming
back for more. The important land mine to watch out for is short-term
thinking on your part when making customer satisfaction decisions.
Employee Partnering to many businesses is a “non-issue,” meaning that they
don’t. What motivated the WWII generation is different from what motivates
baby boomers and is different from what motivates the youth of today. Just
because something motivates you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will
motivate those of a different generation. If you want your employees to have
ownership in your business--even though they don’t have a legal ownership
and hold sacred the business as you do--you must empower your employees.
Empowering means giving them the authority and encouraging them to accept
the responsibility to do the job. Then acknowledge their successes and
failures in an environment of safety--one where you encourage and reward
risk taking. The major land mine to watch out for is the Ego Trap, yours of
course. To give power, you must be a powerful person, one who possesses
personal power rather than power simply acquired from your position.
Owners/Executives as Optimal Partners
Owners/Executives as Optimal Partners is the final and in many ways
the most important part of the pentad. Not the most important from the
perspective that all revolves around you, but that of having a culture of
true partnering. The belief must start at the top, you must lead the charge
and show by words and actions that the paradigm of partnering is truly your
preferred and accepted business strategy. The critical land mine here is
when top brass arrogantly believes that they are at the center of the pentad
and that all should revolve around them. The coveted center is reserved for
the relationships that bind the partnering pentad and your organization as a
viable entity serving society and receiving profits as the result.
For today’s cutting-edge business leaders, partnering is the prevailing
answer. The Partnering Pentad will enable businesses of any size to access
the benefits generated by pooling the knowledge and experience, crucial to
compete in the global marketplace. Partnering is the answer if you are
willing to adopt the paradigm of collaboration for mutual success! Challenge
yourself to put into action the paradigm of partnering as your management
and marketing strategy. Nicholas Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy,
in the first decade of the sixteenth century A.D., wrote a paper stating,
contrary to conventional wisdom, that the earth was not the center of the
universe, but rather that it rotated around the Sun. For this he was
rewarded with a 500 year excommunication by the church. What price are you
willing to pay for progress?
Ed Rigsbee is a Certified Speaking
Professional and the author of PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances,
and The Art of Partnering. Rigsbee has over 1,000 published articles to his
credit and is a regular keynote presenter at corporate and trade association
conferences across North America. He can be reached at (800) 839-1520 or
EdRigsbee@aol.com. For additional
information and ideas, visit his Partnering University Web Site at