We know from research that when we follow a process, our chances of alliance success are greater than for ad hoc alliances. As the ASAP fourth state of alliance study writes: “The companies that follow a structured alliance process consistently report a better success rate with their alliances than average: up to 80%. The companies that approach alliances in an ad hoc fashion report only a success rate of 20%”.

Many people confuse a process with bureaucracy or red tape. But, it does not have to be this way. I prefer to view a process as a guide. It will explain your options and help you make thoughtful decisions. Similar to the guides I used when walking the Camino. Did I need one? I probably could have made this journey without one. There are plenty of signs that will show you the way. However, at some points signs will show in different directions. When leaving the town of Villafranca del Bierzo for example, you will have the choice to turn right going uphill or to continue straight ahead along the road. The one to the right shows a steeply uphill path, it looks difficult, yet appealing. The one straight seems boring, but easy. You will have to make a choice: follow one path or take the other.

These are the moments the guide will come in handy. The guide will help you to explore your options before walking them. The guide will explain that the one to the right is the Camino Duro and that this route will take you to great heights with stunning views. The route will then let you descend through a beautiful chestnut forest. The guide will also explain that this path honors its name: Duro is the Spanish word for difficult. About the path straight ahead, the guide will explain that it follows the road and has its attractiveness only in its ease of walking. I chose the tough one, and it was worth it!

In business, a process is there to guide us in our decisions. In partner selection in alliances we can step in ad hoc because it feels good, or because we think we have no choice. However, we can also let us guide through a selection process. It will help us to make a well-considered decision. In those situations where you don’t have a choice, the partner selection process will allow you to get to know your partner better. It will teach you about their particularities and it will help you prepare for future management of the differences between you and your partner.

I prefer to view a process as a guide, not as bureaucratic. A guide leaves room for our own interpretation and creativity. That’s why I called my book “The 4-step guide to successful partner selection” and left ample room for your creativity along the journey.