Tip 23: Make Sure All Stakeholders Are on Board at Alliance Launch
What describes a good start of an alliance? That question is one I often ask in my workshops, and I always receive a wide variety of answers. When I asked this question in a workshop in China, the answer I got from one of the attendees was at first received with a lot of laughter by his colleagues. He, on the other hand, was dead serious when he answered “have cocktails together.” In the discussion, it became clear that celebrating the start of the alliance is very important in China.
A celebration is a good way to help ensure that all stakeholders are on board the moment the alliance kicks off. It will offer the stakeholders the opportunity to start a relationship with their counterparts from the alliance partner. Having all stakeholders on board is an essential element to starting an alliance.
All too often, we see alliances going through difficult times because not all stakeholders are involved. An alliance manager will have to do a lot of corrective work afterwards to repair this omission and bring these stakeholders on board.
Managing a proper stakeholder analysis before the alliance launch will definitely help prevent this problem. In the article “Alliance Stakeholder Alignment,” Norma Watenpaugh maps team members against the two dimensions of “commitment” and “accountability.” This map leads to the two-by-two matrix you saw in the previous chapter, where you can identify where team members are and what dynamics they may bring to the team. Mapping stakeholder alignment is one activity that you can do during the design phase of the alliance as well as during the lifetime of the alliance.
Mapping stakeholder alignment is just one part of the task you need to do before the alliance launch. The other part is working on the stakeholders to actually bring them on board. You basically need to move them in the mapping from a non-supportive quadrant (hostages and snipers) to a supportive one (cheerleaders and champions). The earlier you start with this stakeholder analysis and with exerting the effort required to bring and keep your stakeholders on board, the easier the alliance will be. That celebration during the alliance launch might really be a good means to help keeping the stakeholders on board.
All your alliance stakeholders must be on board before you launch the alliance. Doing so will take away many hurdles that can block the partnership’s success.
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