Together We Shall Move Forward My Friend

Recently, in a discussion with the General Manager of a local company about the key elements to future growth, he pointed to partnering and networking as possible solutions to alleviating an apparent deficit in resources. A herculean task in of itself, international expansion is fraught with inherent difficulties, something this GM was acutely aware of, but after reviewing existing partnerships with his company, the heart-breaking reality hit home: the majority of these partnerships were now in fact, either under-capitalised, inactive, or, out-right defunct. Despondent, this general manager asked: "Why are we incapable of pooling our capacities to strengthen our competitiveness?"

Unfortunately, this company is not alone, nor exceptional by any means. Business schools surveying the results of partnerships find, more often than not, that a high percentage of these fail, or fail to achieve acceptable results. How can this be explained?

In our experience, we find that the most common mistake is the lack of shared projects: essentially this means that the reason for the collaboration is not clear. A lack of empathy compounds this problem ─ the right amount of empathy would ensure that both organisations benefit from the shared project in question. Furthermore, and not to be dismissed, is the fact that invariably insufficient resources are allocated to projects, and on top of all that, the notable lack of 'love' between partnering organisations. It is my hope that we make ours the title to this article and combine the strategic, operational and human aspects of the relationship.

If we are to build relations with other organisations ─ something that seems a 100% certainty in order to be able to compete globally in future ─ then we must take the bull by the horns, and talk to our partners vis-à-vis a shared project within the established parameters of the collaboration agreement. That agreement would be based on generosity, mutual benefit and trust.

Bringing this all together, we can conclude that managing partnerships with other organisations must include three basic elements: 1) clear objectives; 2) appropriate resources; and 3) ongoing monitoring. The competitive strength of many Basque companies requires joining forces via capacities, knowledge and a diversity of strengths. The poet Benedetti sums it up with these encouraging words: "With your I will, and my can-do, together we shall move forward my friend."

*Published in El Economista, 03/09/2012


Sabin Azua

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