There is a powerful saying in the alliance community that says “Have you seen one alliance, you have seen one alliance”. The main thought behind the saying is that every alliance is different.

In every alliance you will have different ingredients defining how an alliance is created and how an alliance will perform. Alliance ingredients like the partner, the business model, the market, the product, etc.; there are no two alliances that have the same ingredients and no two alliances that will thus act the same.

So: Have you seen one alliance, you have seen one alliance. 

We use best practices to create and manage alliances and to do it well we need to apply them to the specific situation we are facing. That asks for experience, sound judgement and an objective view.

However, it is in our nature to be risk averse, so we have the tendency to look for certainty. Just recently someone sent me an email with the question if I could send him a template to create his alliance. He was looking for a recipe: follow these steps, mix these ingredients, cook it for 30 minutes and voila: guaranteed alliance success!

Yes, you might chuckle now: you know that alliances do not work that way! But still, among many people who have experience in alliances I see some kind of state of being stuck in the way alliances are created. In the past they have seen that a model works and it becomes their trusted reference point; for every upcoming alliance they look for the same recipe.

I have seen it happen in many cases:

  • A past alliance was successfully built on the joint venture model and thus the next alliance needs to be a joint venture model again!
  • We only work in joint marketing alliances with this type of partner as it is our proven way.
  • Our previous success was based on an appliance and a consumable combination; can we do it again?
  • A past alliance was highly successful in a channel model, so again in the next alliance we will sell it to you and you will resell it.

It almost sounds like “that is not the way how we do business around here” and thus we block our creativity.

However, the creativity is what brought those successful models to life in the past! If we want our future alliances to be successful, we need to realize that the ingredients are different every time and thus the recipe to cook up a successful alliance will be different every time as well. It is the combination of knowledge, experience and creativity that allows a chef to become a master chef.

You have the knowledge and the experience, now make sure you continue to apply the creativity ingredient! When stuck do something different, take a break, take a walk, talk to an independent and experienced outsider and force yourself a different view upon your alliance creation.

And whatever you do: don’t settle for habitude. After all, the really successful master chefs cook up their alliances in unexpected ways!

Have a great week!