I recently read an interesting article entitled 15 Steps for Successful Strategic Alliances (and Marriages) from Harvard Business Review. In it, author Rosabeth Moss Kanter lays out the following ideas for a success alliance:
- Be open to romance, but court carefully.
- Know yourself. Build your strengths.
- Seek compatibility in values.
- Treat the ‘extended family’ respectfully.
- Put the lawyers in their place.
- Vow to work together until business conditions do us part.
- But don’t count on the contract.
- So keep communicating, face-to-face.
- Spread involvement. Create more ties for more people.
- Build organizational bridges and formal structures.
- Respect differences.
- Teach partners. Learn from partners.
- Be prepared to change yourself.
- Help everyone win.
- Get closer, change course, or exit gracefully.
For me, personally, I don’t like the idea of parting or exiting gracefully from a marriage but I do like the overall analogy. In today’s world I think that both our marriages and business relationships need more of one critical factor: Commitment.
Commitment means doing what it takes to make things work even when you don’t really want to. Commitment means waking up every morning and making the choice to continue in a relationship even when things are bad. When people fail to commit or honor their commitment the only people that win are the lawyers (both when marriages and business relationships fail), and there are always innocent victims.
Now, I’m more than willing to admit and accept that business relationships do need to come to an end when necessary, but better due diligence on the front-end will help make these messy endings less common.