I’ve previously discussed the differences between the concepts of partnership and service provider as they pertain to the business world. Now I want to discuss the partnership model and why it is important to embrace this model in developing a robust collaborative partnership network. While a partnership model may be easy to define and understand it does seem to be very difficult to embrace. Simply put a partnership model can be defined as a practice in which the parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. This is one of those concepts that is difficult to embrace I believe because of the long ingrained business model and practice of client / service provider.
This client / service provider model has been the dominant model in business relationships for a long time and as such this practice has become second nature and part of the normal business practice for many people. Think about your professional relationships for a bit and compare them the definition of a partnership I provided above. My guess is that after an honest evaluation there is a very good chance that you will identify the majority of your business relationships as the client / service provider type. The practice is commonplace and so it would be unusual if your evaluation came up with a different response. This is important to understand and to define your baseline of where you are starting in order to define the actions to achieve a partnership relationship as your baseline. If you go into a gas station to fill your take it is perfectly acceptable to treat this as a client / service provider relationship. In the majority of your business relationships however I think it is desirable to develop the partnership relationship.
Think about the logic behind the business relationship for a moment and I believe that you will see the logic in embracing the partnership model. You enter into a business relationship to take advantage of the other party’s expertise and capabilities for a particular function or process, why would you then expect to gain benefits if you then tell this business party how to perform the function or process? I hope that you can see the folly in this practice for all but the most basic services. The benefits to each party can be turbo charged by putting into place a mutually beneficial practice that comes from the partnership model.
The partnership model requires a change in attitude along with a change in your business relationship practices. The change in attitude requires that you eliminate the command and control practice that results from the client / service provider model. This is a very difficult practice to overcome and must be practiced every day until it becomes second nature in your attitude. This re-learning of new practices will require the support and understanding of the members of your network so they can also help to develop the new mutual benefits practice in business relationships. This can be the starting point of your relationship with your collaborative partner network, remember though, rather than demanding of your partners that they must employ a partner model you should start by suggesting and requesting participation of the partners to develop this relationship. You cannot order someone to be a partner, you must request it of them!
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
Have you discussed definition and measurement of standard metrics with your collaborative partners? What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation? Have you incorporated a standard that your metrics can support across the partnership network?