Alliance Evaluation and Tune-up
Every alliance can always be more effective, and long-lived alliances can get stale. Partners may accept that “this is the way it is” and struggle through, creating less-than-optimal results. Industry and company strategy changes or turnover in company and alliance leadership may also complicate the picture—but we have found that a little soul-searching and a fresh outlook can bring about outstanding results.
It may be that a new alliance strategy is needed. Perhaps the governance structure is not reflective of changes in operations. Or perhaps there is a particular issue the partners have not dealt with that is blocking the alliance teams from moving ahead.
In instances such as these, savvy alliance managers know they need to bring in objective alliance experts to diagnose the situation and lead the parties to the best path forward. At The Rhythm of Business, we have several tools and approaches to use to evaluate your alliance and help you fine-tune its performance:
- Vital Signs™, our operational and outcome-focused enhancement of an alliance health check.
- Collaborating to Win™, our groundbreaking contextual measurement tool that evaluates how well people are collaborating. This is especially useful in collaborative selling situations.
- Joint alliance visioning and strategy workshops that take a fresh look at the operating, economic, and management models of an ongoing alliance.
- Reset meetings, a modified version of an alliance start-up. Often these are used to roll out a new strategy and/or operating plan to alliance team members.
- Team interventions, for when the strategies are aligned, but roles and responsibilities aren’t clear, or when personalities clash and the teams spend more time arguing than working.
It can be hard to step back and take a microscope to an alliance, but the results can be worth it. Some of the outcomes we have helped generate include:
- The evaluation showed that one of the partners was not satisfied with the revenues being generated, even though they were ahead of budget. It was believed that more could be done; however, sales management was not communicating and planning in a coordinated fashion. Calling attention to this belief shocked the other partner, and it was taken as a challenge. Having this conversation, which otherwise would not have occurred, as well as implementing a simple calendaring tool for the alliance managers and standard agendas for sales planning meetings, is credited with helping to drive sales to new levels.
- The partners were stuck. The evaluation showed that the governance committees weren’t providing the necessary leadership and were allowing activities to stall. Once this was highlighted, the partners committed to working through their issues (which VitalSigns showed were largely rooted in different levels of risk tolerance), a strategic plan for the alliance was developed, the governance structure was reworked, and the alliance moved forward. Subsequently, the parties struck a deal to expand their alliance, a sure sign that an alliance is working.
- Alliance management felt it was time to take the pulse of this multiproject alliance. During preliminary fact-finding interviews, everyone talked about the great collaboration between the partners and how the alliance was going fine. Our evaluation discovered a huge gap in the perceptions of the partners—and found that a majority of participants from both companies were not satisfied with the results. One of the partners had been looking for new opportunities to pursue together, but was being stalled. The assessment demonstrated dysfunction in the escalation process and a lack of accountability for problem solving and achieving results. As a result of both partners’ seeing the data and understanding the implications, new efforts were put on hold, a money-losing project was terminated, governance was streamlined and made more accountable, and the partners are now working on developing a new strategic plan.