Making Partnerships Work

Dateline: July 26, 2013

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Partnerships can be a tricky thing.  On the one hand, building an ecosystem of partners is necessary in today’s environment.  One organization cannot provide all the services necessary for a successful business.  IT is used to working with partners to deliver the variety of systems, applications and support necessary for the business to thrive.  On the other hand, the nature of partnerships means that some are more elusive than others.  Recently, U of Arizona Research Scientist Rafe Sagarin published an HBR blog  about the importance of symbiosis in business partnerships.

No matter how nimble, innovative, or globally networked your organization or business is, it will run smack into the limits of its capabilities just by virtue of operating in today’s dynamic world. To push through these limits, you need to tap into a nearly bottomless force of adaptability known as symbiosis.

A broad examination of nature reveals six key guidelines for adaptable symbiotic relationships that can be applied to today’s organizations:

  • Make your symbiosis count. Partners come together to solve a mutual problem, not just to get together.
  • Love thine enemy. Natural symbioses occur between the most unlikely of partners.
  • Don’t wed your partner. Symbioses can be so long-lived that the individuals become inseparable, or they can consist of extremely short get-togethers that focus on one immediate problem.
  • Forget quid pro quo.  Sometimes one side of the partnership benefits enormously while the other barely benefits, and sometimes one side gives up an awful lot in order to be able to adapt to difficult circumstances.
  • There’s no such thing as a perfect partnership. Natural organisms don’t strive for perfection, they just try to solve problems.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. The most amazing thing about symbiosis is that the outcome can’t ever be predicted just by looking at the two entities separately.

The blog concludes with this,

You can’t plan for serendipity, but you can create space for the emergent properties that often come with symbiotic relationships. One way to do this is to identify new or longstanding problems within your organization or throughout your industry and issue a reward-based challenge to anyone in the organization to help solve it. A challenge-based problem-solving program typically yields fast, cheap, and unexpected solutions, often because it creates a natural point of coalescence for symbiotic partnerships.

Which potential partners have you been resisting for your ecosystem?  Is there a symbiotic relationship that would benefit your organization?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a nice weekend.

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