Shared values in an alliance

Last week IVI and Sabin Vaccine Institute announced to form a Strategic Alliance to Develop Vaccines for the World’s Poor. From many perspectives this is a nice announcement. This alliance shows that alliances are not there just to develop products or create go to market alliances for commercial organizations. Alliances can very well be established among non-profit organizations. Both IVI and the Sabin Vaccine Institute are non-profit organizations. Through the alliance they are bundling capabilities and resources:

This strategic alliance will allow both organizations to benefit by complementing their current capabilities, such as focused disease areas and networks. In addition, the two organizations will collaborate to leverage their presence in different geographical regions, IVI in Asia and Africa and Sabin in the U.S. and Latin America.

The two organizations are strengthening each other not only from a development perspective but also from a market presence perspective.

Dr. Christian Loucq, the Director-General of IVI states highlights an important element in the quote about the alliance: “Sabin shares common values with IVI”. Although the announcement does not make it explicit, it looks as if the two organizations have addressed their values upon the start of the alliance. Common values, or agreeing to a set of core values, are essential for the future of an alliance. It will help bridge differences in organizational cultures and operating styles. You can, or maybe should, include the core values for the alliance in the alliance business plan. It is an alliance best practice to review the common values and principles as the first agenda item at key partner meetings. Be clear on the meaning of the words you use. Words can have different meaning to different people. Clarifying until you agree on a common meaning will help cross bridges and create trust within the alliance. Values will then become the governing principles for your alliance and will help to foster win-win-win thinking and behavior.

How do you address the values in your alliances? Do you indeed make them explicit and agree upon them before start or do you have other ways to deal with values in alliances?