Many organisations want to be a Partner of Choice; the de facto organisation others turn to for a specific challenge. You probably recognise situations in your own personal environment. Do you have your favourite shop for groceries, a preferred garage for your car, a default local plumber when something needs to be done in the house? They are all, somehow, your Partner of Choice. You trust these companies with your business because you feel that they deliver good quality work, for a reasonable price and at the right time. They have a reputation, they are trustworthy. 

To become a partner of choice your organisation needs a reputation too. It goes without saying that the basics need to be in order. Your company needs to be reliable, deliver the right product or solutions for a reasonable price and at the right time. From an alliance perspective there is a little more to it. You also need to build your own excellence in partnering. 

Building excellence in partnering is an ongoing journey. It can even be questionable whether you will ever become excellent. You can be good, become great and as you get closer to excellent you will learn about new areas for improvement. Building your excellence in partnering is a continuous improvement process.

Excellence in partnering requires a collaborative organisational culture. The whole organisation needs to be involved, and not just the alliance department. The culture needs to live and breathe collaboration, both internally in the organisation as well as externally, to outside partners. 

A collaborative culture has several aspects. It is, for instance, about the language used within the organisation. Constantly downtalking a partner, i.e. talking about “That company”, doesn’t help the collaboration. Neither does calling them a supplier. It creates the wrong mindset in the organisation. Call the partner a partner, talk about “us” and “we” when you refer to the partnership, rather than about “they” and “them”. 

A collaborative culture is also about behaviour, about respect, about integrity, about communication, about your norms and values, about your reward system, about ease of doing business, and, of course, about many more elements. 

A collaborative culture is one of the cornerstones on your journey towards excellence in partnering. Once you embark on that journey you will start to build your reputation and trustworthiness. Your – potential – partners will recognise you as a worthy partner to become their Partner of Choice.

I’m curious, where are you in your journey to excellence in partnering? Share it in the comments or schedule a virtual coffee to discuss.

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