alliance successAt the start of this new week, I have some food for thought for you, inspired by some conversations I had last week. As you know, I am a business coach with a specialization in strategic alliances.

When introducing myself to new people, I often have to explain what that is exactly. Many people don’t know what strategic alliances are, let alone what a business coach does in this area. My explanation then is built on a little simplification, after all in the elevator we only have a few minutes at best for our pitch.

My simplified explanation is often build around the fact that strategic alliances are collaborations between organizations and that many people are convinced that collaboration is easy. Nothing is further from the truth, certainly when it comes to collaboration between organizations. My role as a business coach is to help companies create and manage successful strategic alliances.

The response to this simplified explanation can be divided into three groups, and as the elevator is reaching its destination I have to be quick:

  • The first group glazes over and still does not get it (not my target group beyond the elevator)
  • The second group recognizes my point and states that we need to talk as they have a problem (with this group I want to make sure we exchange business cards before we leave the elevator)
  • The third group is the “we know it all” group: they don’t agree and make very clear that they do know how to collaborate

It is this third group that I quickly ask my next question, before we leave the elevator: “where did you learn to collaborate?”

You see, the problem is that in most schools there is no collaboration curriculum. We were taught in many ways how to build and run a business, or facets of it. However, we never learned how to collaborate. We often learn how to build, to acquire and to protect, but not how to share, to trust and to collaborate.

There are two exceptions to this education path that I am aware of, one I have mentioned before. The only people that answer the question on collaboration are people who have served their time in the military. They are taught on how to collaborate as part of their basic military training and the reason is obvious: their life and that of their colleagues depends on it!

The other exception is the school of hard knocks and we all have been there sometimes. Here our lives don’t depend on it, but our mistakes can still be painful and very costly (yup, I have been there too).

In business the future of our organization can depend on collaboration between businesses. If done right, it can be the lever we need to leapfrog forward. If done wrong, it can be a costly lesson and potentially harmful for our personal and organizational business life.

Some food for thought for this week: how much does your organization depend on strategic alliances? Where did you learn how to collaborate and what do you do to make your strategic alliances a leapfrogging success?

Enjoy a great collaborative week!


PS: The third way to learn how to create successful strategic alliances is obviously to work in a mentoring engagement with me.