In the white paper “Alliance Culture: It’s in the DNA!” Ard-Pieter de Man and Dave Luvison describe the soft aspects of alliance management. These aspect are about alliance mindset and alliance culture, rather than about capabilities in an organization or the tools we can use.


The benefits of an alliance culture

In the paper they also describe why having an alliance culture is important:

  • It increases the alliance success rate
  • It simplifies alliance management
  • It creates support for alliances within an organization


Three clear benefits for an organization involved in one or more alliances. Ard-Pieter and Dave also describe the underlying study that is the foundation for the white paper. Next to the aforementioned benefits, they come to the conclusion that an alliance culture can be created in any sector or company and needs to be internalized in a company.


With their substantiation it is almost a no brainer for any company with one or more alliances to establish an internal alliance culture. Having an alliance culture will probably benefit internal collaboration as well. That however is not a finding from their study, but more an expectation from me. When the culture of the organization has a focus on collaborating externally, the internal collaboration will also benefit.


Establishing an alliance culture

When creating a “third culture” for an alliance team, we will define the norms and values for that team. In their report, Ard-Pieter and Dave also suggest to have a strong focus on establishing the right norms in a company. Norms that have an alliance, or a collaborative, focus. However, establishing an alliance culture is more than just setting the right norms. It is also important to live these norms throughout the organization.


The wider organization needs to be aware of the importance of alliances for an organization. The people in the organization need to see the alliance partners as part of “us” instead of as “them.” For this to happen, people need to learn the particularities of alliances. Conducting part of your business through alliances is different than just conducting it through your own company. Another party is involved now. As such, people need to be aware as to when the other party is part of “us” and when it is another company.


There is no clear one-size fits all roadmap to establish an alliance culture into your organization. My general suggestion would be to combine education with coaching. Education in order to teach people the essential elements of working in alliances and coaching will help to internalize the right alliance behavior in your organization.


The Alliance Masterclass, for instance, will help people in your organization to understand the particularities of working together with other organizations. The Masterclass will provide them with practical tools to apply in their business and will address the soft aspects of working in alliances. When you combine that with a period of alliance (group) coaching to internalize the learnings, your organization will likely leapfrog forward in your alliance success.