I’ve been thinking a lot about “partnerships” lately. We tend to throw that word around freely, and I’d posit that it has even become a buzz word among agencies and clients. But partnership IS a powerful concept and in today’s business climate of fragmentation and complexity, partnerships are a key component to success for any business. The client/agency relationship is a great example of a partnership, but often it becomes a dysfunctional relationship for many reasons.
I’ve tried to narrow down the top 5 attributes to a successful partnership.
- Common Goals
A partnership is predicated on both parties working towards a common goal. That said, see point #2. If both parties do not benefit appropriately, a common goal does not a partnership make.
- Both Parties Benefit
While many of us can claim that we are passionate about what we do for a living, we are all ultimately in business to make a profit – and to maximize that profit. A successful partnership is one where both parties feel that they are getting a fair shake on the financial side. If this is not the case, the partnership is destined for failure.
- Third Parties in the Ecosystem Benefit
This point may be subjective, but the output of a partnership usually must also benefit third parties such as customers, supply chain participants, or other parties of influence, in order for it to satisfy points #1 and #2.
- The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of its Parts
So many successful and productive partnerships operate based on the collaborative efforts of two (or more) parties becoming a force greater than the individual efforts of eachhis is a win all around. This point is not relavant for all relationship-types – for example, without some level of vendor-customer relationship, the individual parts of the client/agency relationship would have no relaqtion to one another in the marketplace. However, when clients and agencies work closely together, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.
- Internal Champions Exist on Both Sides
Partnerships don’t just happen. Like any relationship, personal or professional, relationships take work. Embrace the challenges that come with the opportunities. A good partnership is well worth the effort – ask any happily married couple.
Any good relationship is secured more by intentions and the people behind the the handshake than by contracts. Of course, don’t minimize the importance of handling your business either. We are in the age of the partnership. Whether explicit or implicit, partnerships are part of today’s business environment. Take some time to analyze your relationships and determine whether they exhibit the five points above. I they don’t, it’s time to revisit your approach to business relationships in general.
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