Common senseIsn’t it all just common sense?” someone asked me last week.

I was facilitating an alliance workshop and the question was asked by one of the participants. We just discussed the management phase of an alliance. This is the phase where all preparation has been done, the alliance has been started and is in full operation: we are collaborating with our partner!

This is also the phase of an alliance where we need to keep the alliance healthy. We need to measure our progress, manage stakeholders, communicate frequently and do our health checks. Compared to some other business relationships, like customer relationships, it might all be common sense indeed.

In the realm of account or customer management, we know our processes to keep the relationship with our customers healthy, to manage the stakeholders, to measure our progress and do our customer satisfaction surveys. Customer relationship management is often embedded in the organizational processes. Most companies understand that customers are one of the cornerstones of their organization and thus all processes are diligently followed.

However, the big difference is that to many companies, alliances are still new and not well understood. If done at all, alliance management is often still done ad-hoc as a task on the side. Many people mistakenly think that you can just do alliances. Yet successful alliances are not “just done”.

Successful alliances are staffed with dedicated professionals and receive clear leadership support. Here the stakeholders understand what is at stake and that the dynamics of two (or more) organizations working together are different then the dynamics of their own organization. Dedicated professionals understand their processes and tools to make alliances successful.

So, “Isn’t it all just common sense?” For a small group it may be, but unfortunately for the majority we are far from it yet. There is a lot of work to be done before it will be general common sense. The processes have to be set for many organizations and the skills have to be built before we will be on our way towards alliance management becoming common sense.

The participants of last week’s in-company workshop are now one step closer to alliance management becoming common sense for them. For the person who asked the question, I am confident that he is among the people to adopt these processes and ways of working as common sense quickly.

How about you? Is alliance management common sense for you, or is it time to participate in the April 5 alliance workshop that will be held in Amsterdam? Read more about the workshop here.