5 Things to Consider for a Successful Partnership

Date: May 5, 2014

Fundamentally institutions are made up of groups of people that come together for a common cause or mission. And no matter the size of an institution there is a limit to the time and resources any one group can commit to achieving a goal. Successful institutions and ventures carefully focus their efforts around core capabilities and strategic initiatives. Partnerships present an opportunity to go beyond the limits of what one institution can do alone. The hope is that the end result of a successful partnership is value creation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Partnerships are formed for many reasons, and it is important to acknowledge that each member has its own motivations. Several common reasons for partnerships are to:

  • Expand into new markets
  • Fill a capabilities gap
  • Share information, knowledge, or know-how
  • Leverage a technology advantage
  • Co-create a strategic competitive advantage
  • Distribute risk
  • Offer a joint product or solution
  • Address customer demand or request
  • Signal to the market or customers

In co-creating a successful partnership we like to consider these 5 things.

1) Finding the right partners. – Seeing eye to eye.

A partnership is a commitment and in that regard it is critical to understand the motivation and goals of all the stakeholders. Take the time early on to understand why both the individuals and institutions want a partnership and why each party is willing to put in the time and resources necessary to make it successful. Understand that each party has different needs. By bringing clarity to this point it can not only help formulate the vision but it can alert the group to conflicts that might arise if conditions change.

2) Focus on the future vision. – Avoid the weeds.

Form a clear definition and picture of what the purpose of the partnership is and the expected end result. This vision should be co-created by both parties and address the needs of individuals and institutions. If both parties are aligned it becomes easier to navigate through all the planning, various interest group discussions, and negotiations.

3) Communication is key. – Put it in writing.

The most important part of a partnership is establishing and maintaining good communication. This not only allows for a level of transparency between the parties but helps establish clear expectations and accountability. Consider jointly discussing and laying out roles and responsibilities. And it does not hurt to put everything in writing such as keeping good meeting minutes and backing up email correspondence.

4) Accept that all relationships are not meant to last. – Prenup anyone?

It is not a bad thing to consider up front that a relationship can have a beginning, middle, and end. Partnerships form to meet the needs of two or more different parties and achieve a specific goal. The needs of those institutions and individuals will change and evolve overtime. It is important to anticipate when and how those needs will change and consider how the partnership might evolve or dissolve.

5) Fit contracts to “your needs” not the other way around.

Realize that any partnership you form does not have to be set by a predefined script. You know what you need and you know the vision you have co-created better than anyone else. Find the right legal team to help enable your co-creation.


More quality business partnership articles:

Planning for failure


How to tell if it fails



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