Improv ing the Management of complex business partnerships

 

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Ruth De Backer and Eileen Kelly Rinaudo for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out other resources, learn more about the firm, obtain subscription information, and register to receive email alerts, please click here.

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Adhering to four key principles can help companies increase the odds that their collaborations will create more value over their life cycles.
Partnerships never go out of style. Companies regularly seek partners with complementary capabilities to gain access to new markets and channels, share intellectual property or infrastructure, or reduce risk. The more complex the business environment becomes—for instance, as new technologies emerge or as innovation cycles get faster—the more such relationships make sense. And the better companies get at managing individual relationships, the more likely it is that they will become “partners of choice” and able to build entire portfolios of practical and value-creating partnerships.Of course, the perennial problems associated with managing business partnerships don’t go away either—particularly as companies increasingly strike relationships with partners in different sectors and geographies. The last time we polled executives on their perceived risks for strategic partnerships,1 the main ones were: partners’ disagreements on the central objectives for the relationship, poor communication practices among partners, poor governance processes, and, when market or other circumstances change, partners’ inability to identify and quickly make the changes needed for the relationship to succeed (exhibit).

In our work helping executive teams set up and navigate complex partnerships, we have witnessed firsthand how these problems crop up, and we have observed the different ways companies deal with them. The reality is: successful partnerships don’t just happen. Strong partners set a clear foundation for business relationships and nurture them. They emphasize accountability within and across partner companies, and they use metrics to gauge success. And they are willing to change things up if needed. Focusing on these priorities can help partnerships thrive and create more value than they would otherwise.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

 

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