When I visited my general practitioner, I thought I was going in for my annual health check and my doctor mentioned that it had been a long while since I  came in for a health check. I was a bit confused. I knew that it wasn’t exactly a year since I last had a checkup, but it wasn’t that long ago, or was it? … It appeared that three years had passed since my last “annual” checkup!

Regular checkups are good practice in many situations and often it is about safety – to prevent things from going wrong. For instance, I have my car and its tyres checked yearly to ensure that it’s safe to drive and take me from a to b safely. I have the chimney of our woodfired oven checked and cleaned every year too, to ensure good draft and to prevent chimney fire. Aircrafts are brought in for maintenance frequently, with the obvious goal being to keep them in the air and bring people safely to and from their destinations.

These checkups are often regulated by manufacturers, governments or insurance companies. Health checks are always important, but rarely urgent and regulation makes it easier to stick to a regular checkup schedule.

Alliance Health Checks are, like personal health checks, meant to identify possible issues before they arise. They are about the safe and healthy future of your alliance. Hence they are important, but rarely urgent. The moment Alliance Health Checks become urgent, it becomes much more about fixing the alliance rather than about keeping it healthy. That is another parallel between alliance and personal health checks: fixing health is way more expensive than it is to try to stay healthy. 

I’ve heard people say that they know exactly what the status of their alliance is and that they don’t need a health check. That feels to me like ostrich behaviour (sticking heads in the sand!). Alliances are created between organisations and driven to success by people and their personal relationships. People also have their personal agendas and will not (always) share everything with everyone. You can’t know exactly what the status of your alliance is without measuring it. Alliance Health Checks, when done well, are anonymous and gather input from the people involved, that results in an impartial overview of the state of your alliance, with recommendations for improvement.

It would be helpful to regulate your Alliance Health Checks. One way of doing so is by agreeing on a cadence with your alliance partner early on in the relationship, when you negotiate the alliance contract. Then, you have an obligation to each other to do the work and keep the alliance healthy. Another way is to subscribe to an impartial outside Alliance Health Check service that will keep you accountable and ensure you perform your Alliance Health Checks on a regular basis.

I agreed with my general practitioner on a health check cadence and to come in every year during the month of my birthday. When are your alliances due for their next check?