Phoenix Rising Blog – Strategic Alliances

Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Partnerships are about creating new value that could not be easily achieved alone. So the focus of negotiations should pivot on partner math 1 + 1 > 3.

Your first discovery conversation with a potential partner is usually about how you create more value together. Then, how do you each realize value in the partnership. Sustainable alliances are built on both creating value and claiming value, but without the focus on value creation you are playing a zero-sum game.

There are other negotiation approaches that are more confrontational resulting in win/lose outcomes. These never work well for partnerships. Or in truth for most negotiations as recently reported in a study of negotiation outcomes published by Harvard Law School.

Value creating negotiations involve seeking mutually beneficial outcomes.  It often entails asking “Why?” a lot to understand your partners requirements, how they grow their business, how they make money.  In understanding their business, you are better positioned to find alternatives and solutions that will benefit both of you and cost you little or nothing.  And a good partner will be looking out for your interests as well.

An example is the parable of the orange.  Two cooks are tasked to prepare a special meal for a VIP. Their reputations are at stake and tensions are high. One cook intends to make a fabulous dessert and the other a tangy meat entre.  Each require an orange for their recipe, but there is only one.  They argue about who should get the orange and after  many bitter words and bruised egos, they agree to cut the orange in half.  Neither is fully satisfied and each is disappointed in the outcome the meal.  Had they asked ‘Why?” the result could have been quite different.  One cook needed the peel of one orange; the other, the juice. 

In reality, getting a potential partner to reveal their true interests is not always as simple as asking “why?”  You have to build a relationship of trust to get behind the defensive shield. Often you do that by being more forth coming and showing a little trust yourself. 

I often hear the phrase “Gives and Gets” when discussions turns to contracts.  Makes me shiver.  It sets up a very transactional, zero-sum negotiation, like the example of the oranges which ultimately was lose/lose, since neither cook was satisfied with the outcome.  When I hear this phrase, I always interject “No, its Give to Get”.  What am I willing to contribute to our mutual success and what does that success look like for you?”

Many less seasoned alliance managers often want to jump into negotiation right away and come armed with contract lawyers. This doesn’t exactly set the stage for relationship building and fostering trust. In the model we advocate, you should have clarity in the value proposition for the customer and all partners and a fairly complete business plan. Most of this prework can be accomplished on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that enables you to work together to design the partnership without binding commitment other than an intent to work together in good faith until you can establish whether or not you have makings of sustainable alliance.

During this process, you will learn a lot about each other and whether you can work together effectively.  This will be important in the weeks and years of the partnership lifecycle.  You might as well figure this out up front. An alliance is not a deal after all, not a one-time transaction.  Negotiations in the form of joint problem solving and collaboration will be a daily occurrence.

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Tags: Collaboration, Innovation, Negotiations, Joint problem solving, value creations


Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 01:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Imagine you have just joined a new high-flying company, leading the partnering organization.  You are full of aspirations and optimism.  This is going to be great!  A nascent partner organizationthat you can shape and grow to meet the astounding growth potential of this booming market...

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Posted Monday, July 31, 2017 at 05:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

When we talk about digital transformation, so much about it is about the customer experience. At a recent ASAP Tech Partner Forum, Tiffani Bova from Salesforce cited an example of how as a consumer, you might order a Starbucks, from your Tesla, through Alexa. When you drive up to pick up your coffee...

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Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 at 02:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Recently I was invited to facilitate a roundtable/workshop at the June 7, 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in Santa Clara, Calif., centered on digital transformation. We heard from many experts and pioneers in the technology space about the challenges and changes they were navigating. It was like drinking...

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Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 12:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

How do you engage when your partner is strategic to you – but you are not strategic to them.My partner thinks of me as a supplier, or a channel, or 'fill-in-the-blank.' How do I become a strategic partner?  This is a common refrain from startups and small companies wanting a relationship...

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Tags: strategic partner, alliances


Posted Monday, October 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Investment in Talent to Grow and InnovateTo many organizations, alliances and strategic partnerships are “the new way businesses grow and innovate,” particularly as they experience a rising profile within the C-suite.  As partnership alliances become an increasingly important source...

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Tags: Partner manager, partnering talent, partnering, channel management, alliance management


Posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Market Impact embraces those strategies that are aimed at growing the businesses of the allied partners. It includes strategies such as entering new markets, gaining a market share position, and generally expanding the capability to gain new customers. The top five selections of our best practices...

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Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

The Strategy of AlliancesAlliances in the technology sector are overwhelmingly evaluated based on revenue and for good reason. They deliver incremental revenue over above business as usual. However, revenue is a lagging indicator and does not provide insight into whether the alliance is achieving...

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Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 08:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Alliance management is in many ways a young profession, yet there is a set of defined processes and practices that have been shown to be effective in creating and operating successful collaborations.   Research has shown that companies that approach collaboration through...

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Posted Monday, October 21, 2013 at 05:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Success Begins at the TopIt is hard to overstate the importance of a champion at the senior levels of the organization.  Many alliances fail or falter when they lose the executive champion and the role is not backfilled with a strong leader.The role of the champion is many fold. They represent...

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Tags: champion, executive sponsor, alliance, strategic partner


Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 07:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Do you have champions in your alliance? or do you have snipers and hostages? When I teach alliance skills mastery workshops, I often ask how much time managers spend on internal alignment.  That is winning the hearts and minds of the internal alliance stakeholders to gain their buy-in and...

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Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 02:28 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

I did a study three years ago of partner health across 14 strategic alliances and about ~400 respondents and found something very interesting about the nature of trust in alliances. We did a correlation of heath attributes against overall partner health. We found that when 'trust' was present it did...

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Tags: Alliance Management Best Practices, Alliance Strategy


Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Social media hype is everywhere. We are deluged with it on-line. We see it on TV. Our kids are absorbed by Facebook. The State department even requests that Twitter delays maintenance to ensure continuity in the information flow from civil unrest in Iran. Even as we are coming to grips with Social...

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Tags: social media, partnering


Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 02:32 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Attended an ASAP Green breakfast this morning and it was certainly eye opening even if the coffee arrived late.Hal LaFlash, Dir Emerging Clean Technology Policyfrom PG&E -that's Pacific Gas and Electric for the non-Californians - spoke on the many alliances that PG&E has been cultivating...

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Tags: power, green, alliances


Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Part I discussed how demographic segmentation allowedtargeting programs, benefits, and attention to engender greater loyalty and business through their developers. Part II addresseshow segmentation by 'Loyalty' itself helps to identify andto address specific concerns of developers. While...

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Tags: roi, loyalty


Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

I was approached by a client some weeks ago to present at conference some work we did on Developer Loyalty. Now there are a lot satisfaction type surveys out there, but my client presented a very specific challenge. She was new in the role as the Director of the Developer Community and needed...

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Tags: roi, loyalty


Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 at 03:09 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Have you read a book in the past year that made an impact on you and how you manage alliances and partnerships? Could even be one you've written!! Here are some that I read this past year which I found had relevance to the field of alliance management. NOT listed in any order other than how they...

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Tags: alliances, reading, list


Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 08:32 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Plans for Strategic Alliances on the RiseNearly one-third of consumer products companies plan to forge new strategic alliances in the upcoming 12 months (30 percent), up 8 points from the second quarter of 2008 according to Pricewaterhouse CoopersNEW YORK, Dec 4, 2008GlobeNewswireChrysler...

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Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Strategic alliances are often viewed as a strategy for growth and perhaps not always a strategy for economically challenging times. But many of the reasons that make strategic alliances a good idea in good times make them an even better strategy for uncertain times. What are these reasons to partner...

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Tags: strategic alliances, importance


Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

What do you think of, when you think win-win? Most business people will interpret that as "I win and my partner wins". Unfortunately quite a number will behave differently: "win-win means I win twice!" This, as you can imagine, does not produce sustainable partnerships. Smart business people will...

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Tags: partnering, growth


Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

The April meeting of the Silicon Valley/Norcal Chapter of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals featured a panel discussion on Coopetition. It turns out to be as hard to pronounce as it is to do. The panel often struggled with every verb and noun form of it: Coopetive, co-opeting. It...

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Tags: alliances, cooperation, competition


Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

"Collaborative Innovation: Leveraging Strategic Partnerships for the Global Playing Field" Sunday, March 30, 2008BlogTalkRadio: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/CoachforInnovation6:00 p.m. Pacific/9:00 p.m.Collaborative innovation is rapidly becoming a key differentiator for organizations. But as enterprises...

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Tags: partnering, innovation


Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

A successful alliance program begins at the top with the support of the CEO. Like many other things, the CEO influences company culture, models the behavior, and sets the priorities in collaborative relationships. CEO support and that of the CXO staff fosters the environment where alliances can thrive...

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Tags: partnering, success, alliances, secrets

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