Just like all entrepreneurs, we began with an idea…and in the garage (or the basement in our case). The Rhythm of Business was founded in 1998 (incorporated in 1999) when principals Jan Twombly and Jeff Shuman realized they had a shared appreciation of the iterative development process that underlies entrepreneurial thinking, as well as the scientific process—and the collaborative process. Jeff had recently published The Rhythm of Business, his award-winning 1998 book describing the essence of the iterative entrepreneurial process as he had observed and practiced it, working with very successful entrepreneurs and building his own companies. Jan had worked with many innovative entrepreneurs through her accounting practice, but more importantly, had understood the iterative collaborative process through her volunteer advocacy work with RESULTS, helping to gain funding for lifesaving vaccines for children and microloans for women-led businesses through the new technology of microcredit pioneered by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank.
This was the age of the Internet bubble, prompting an influx of technology companies seeking to build collaborative technologies that connected many partners. It caused us both to realize that advances in communication and information technologies were enabling many new business models, most of which were entrepreneurial at their core—and thus dependent on rallying people and their resources around a vision.
The beauty of technology meant that partnering became as viable a business model as ownership. Our view that we were on the right track was cemented when in August 2000 our sage, the eminent management guru of the 20th century, Peter Drucker, was quoted in Business 2.0:
The corporation as we know it shall soon cease to exist. Not legally and financially, but structurally and economically.
We were in the midst of writing our first book together, Collaborative Communities: Partnering for Profit in the Networked Economy. With Drucker’s statement, we knew we were on to something. When we had the good fortune to keynote two conferences on collaboration with him in the next few years, he confirmed that the new model was a partnered model.
Since then, we have focused exclusively on two things:
- What collaboration is, why it is the most important behavior of our time, and how to do it well.
- Using that understanding to translate collaboration into the frameworks, concepts, and tools that today represent our perspective on realizing success through alliance and partnership.
In 2002, the nascent Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals launched its Boston Chapter, and Jan spoke at one of its first Chapter meetings. Since then, we’ve been integral to developing the discipline of alliance management as the authoritative source for guidance on partnering, alliances, and collaboration.
Today we see our mission as one of guiding the profession of alliance management to be squarely at the center of strategic leadership discussions, setting the agenda. It is time for the profession to fully leverage alliances as a central component of growth and bring to bear a range of skills that almost no one else in the organization possesses.
We aim to win your trust and be your guide to the future of alliance management.