In an article on the website of Inc magazine is described how former Chief of Police William Bratton talks about his eight points of preparedness for working together in a networked world. Reading this article there are some parallels to draw with how we approach strategic alliances:
In his first point Bratton talks about vision and the fact that collaboration begins with one or more leaders and a shared idea. In strategic alliances we start with the strategic rationale which leads into a value proposition, without a shared vision there will be no alliance.
Secondly Bratton addresses to rightsize the problem, this is not necessarily addressed in the alliance lifecycle, but does make obvious sense in business. Even though you might feel that two large corporations need to work together on an overall scale it makes sense to take the overall alliance step by step, project by project.
Create a platform is the third step, where is elaborated that collaborators need a platform to share information. It is an essential element of the launch plan where needs to be defined how to communicate. Bratton however has more focus on one single platform to share information. In any kind of collaboration, also alliances, it makes sense to have a single collaboration platform to share information and communication rather than through separate emails with the risk of forgetting about team members.
Number 4 on Bratton’s list is to make it pay for everyone, the alliance value proposition needs to add value for all three (or more) parties involved: you, your partner and your customer.
Have the right people with you, is almost a no-brainer. One will not create a successful strategic alliance without the right staff on both sides of the team. However sometimes you will need to deal with people who feel a hostage in the team. These are the people that based on their functional role in one of the organizations are accountable for part of the result of the alliance but are not committed. In New York Bratton replaced six out of seven top officers, this might be a solution with “hostages” in alliance teams, but not always the most obvious solution. It might be better to talk to them and make them aware of the importance of the alliance for themselves and their organization.
When we talk about alliance goals, measurement and alliance health, Bratton speaks about deliver on performance. He developed goals for crime reduction and tracked them religiously. Through the alliance balanced scorecard we can define metrics that will allow us to track and manage on performance.
With find your political support Bratton describes the essence of executive sponsorship. It appears that during his time in New York he did not get along with Mayor Guilliani and was out in two years. In his next assignment in Los Angeles he assured proper executive sponsorship (political support).
Have passion and a playbook, when an organization is not really committed to an alliance the alliance is almost destined to fail. When team members are not committed to the alliance the alliance may be hampered by those particular team members. In both cases it is essential to turn it around or terminate the alliance. This eight point is almost applicable to every action one takes. Whether it is an alliance, an other form of collaboration or a single project, without passion and a plan it will be hard to succeed.
More about the eight steps can be found in Bratton’s book “Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching across boundaries in a networked world” where he describes a playbook for collaborating across boundaries of Today’s networked world.