Many organisations are aware that their focus should shift towards strategic relationships in order to solve their main challenges. We are more and more convinced that we need others to become successful. However, not every collaboration is a road to success.
Developing strategic relationships is a process that I often split into 5 steps: Explore, Share, Agree, Design and Execute.
Looking backwards to the many relations and cooperation efforts that I have been involved in, I must admit that we often forgot about most of these steps. It was not unusual that we pulled together a project team with members of the involved organisations, gave them an assignment and then waited for the outcome to be delivered. Knowing better now, I am not surprised that those cooperation’s often ended long before the finishline. Often, projects and other cooperative efforts started at (the end of) step 4 -Design- and then hastely jumped into execution. The first three steps were skipped completely, starting the cooperation without really knowing your partners.
Successful relationships are built upon careful preparation, following the 5 steps mentioned above. Explore your partners ambitions and interests. Why do you want to cooperate with this partner and why would your partner wish to cooperate with you? Ask your partner to do the same and then sit down together and share your findings. Only then you will be able to identify the drivers, shared ambitions and interests that form a solid basis for your relationship. Come to an agreement on what each of the partners want to invest in (and gain from) the relationship.
Yes, it will take some time before you can actually start. But the return on this relatively small investment is huge: a strategic relationship that will last for a long time, bringing you to great heights that you could not have reached alone!