In my previous article I wrote about the need to set clear expectations at the beginning of a collaboration. To help you in doing so, I included a link to a tool that can help you clarify the intentions and expectations for both partners. It is quite a simple tool that can be used for both external and internal collaborations.
Starting a collaboration in an aligned way is crucial for its future success. Aligning the expectations of both partners is where the tool comes in handy in a simple way. Simple? Yes. However, simple is not always easy. The tool maps out a starting point that still needs to be discussed, in order to reach alignment. Our level of eagerness to collaborate might make that discussion easier – or not.
Staying aligned is imperative. There can also be another big challenge: your own organization might form a big distractor, as a number of your colleagues do not understand or see the value of the partnership. Thus when you are in a partnership, you and your partner are dealing with at least two organizational dynamics: those from your own organization and those from the collaborative organization in the partnership. In addition, you both will sense the different dynamics in your partner’s organization as well.
As I describe in tip 9 in my book, a way to stay aligned with your partner is to define common values and operating principles for the partnership. Values that you have agreed upon and that you will live by, as well as operating principles that define how you work together in your partnership. It is good to jointly review those values and operating principles regularly to ensure that you and your partner are still singing from the same hymn sheet.
As a leader in the partnership, it’s even more important to live those values and to make them visible. In the article “Leaders make values visible”, Marshall Goldsmith uses two examples to highlight the importance of living the values day-to-day. An importance that equally applies to single organizations as well as to partnerships.
The use of values and operating principles applies to bi-lateral partnerships, internal collaborations and to multi-partner alliances as well. However, be aware that adding more partners to the collaboration also adds a multitude of dynamics and complexity. Thus staying aligned in multi-partner alliances will require more time, persistence and acts of leadership.