Partnerships and alliances can bring a tremendous leverage to your company’s growth. However we also know that partnerships and alliances have the name to be difficult and many studies show a high failure rate. The cause of failing partnerships lies partly in the design and partner selection phase of an alliance.

In 2014 I published the first version of my ebook “The 4-step guide to successful partner selection”. This guide describes a step by step approach to partner selection in a structured, yet pragmatic, way: one that will create the foundation for a successful partnership. Following the 4-step process sometimes leads to surprising results. Partners that turn out to have the best fit, sometimes weren’t the first choice on the wish list. It once again shows that a business partner selection requires more than just choosing the one that first shows up.

Another approach to a solid partnership selection and design is by use of Bart Doorneweert’s Partnership Canvas. In episode 44 of the Collaborative Business Podcast I had an extensive conversation with Bart about the Partnership Canvas that has been developed as an add-on tool to Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.*

The purpose of the Partnership Canvas is to “demystify the partnership entity by defining its building blocks. The tool can be used to map existing, and design new models for partnerships. The Partnership Canvas helps to break through the boundary of possibilities for innovating with only your own business model.”

The canvas is centered around three aspects of value: the desired value, the value offer and the created value and it maps the transfer activities of a business model in the middle. You can work the canvas with your own team to map the partnership business models, or with your partner. In that case both partners will map their own canvas and connect to explore the connection points, missing elements and possible overlaps.

Both my 4-step process as well as Bart’s canvas are tools to help you do a proper partner selection and design. We both focus on much of the same elements. The canvas is probably more geared towards visually oriented people and lends itself better for use with a partner in a workshop. My process is partly built upon a spreadsheet based evaluation and some elements of it, like the needs & contribution matrix, can be excellently used in a workshop with a partner, while other elements require more of your in-house preparation.

Whichever methodology you choose is up to you. As long as you do choose a methodology and actively apply it, you are enhancing your chances for alliance success!