The need for spiritual principles in alliances is a strategic imperative.
Strategic alliances aren’t simply “nice-to-do” things. It is not melodramatic to think of alliances as “life and death” matters. The two main industries for strategic alliances are high-technology (computers) and bio-tech/pharmaceutical (drugs). In the former situation strategic alliances can mean life or death for a business. In the latter case strategic alliances can mean life or death for patients.
Strategic alliances are actually life and death matters.
Most Alliances Fail
Even with their increasing importance to businesses, most strategic alliances fail.[i] They fail to achieve their full value-creating potential. Many fail soon after being announced. After the excitement of the negotiation, executive handshake and press release, momentum wanes. Many of the people involved in the alliance’s launch (the sexy and visible phase) go back to their day-to-day jobs and leave you holding the bag. They want to benefit from the positive afterglow of the alliance’s consummation but scatter when the hard work begins. They sense that the odds of success are slim and know that tangible results will take years of challenging work.
Beyond initial failure, in every strategic alliance there is always significant untapped value-creating potential. As a strategic alliance manager you know this to be true. You and your team often lament, “I know there is more we could do together. Why is it so hard?” This is a failure. The alliance has failed, and in many ways we have failed our alliance.
Why do most strategic alliances fail? There are three primary causes:
- Poor strategy and business plans (46% of the cause) – a traditional business practice; in general, businesses do know how to do this.
- Poor or damaged relationships (40% of the cause) – a nontraditional business practice; businesses generally do not know how to do this. It’s up to you!
- Bad legal and financial terms and conditions (14% of the cause) – traditional business practices; in general, businesses do know how to do this.
It’s All About Relationship
Most alliances fail, mostly because businesses fail in the artful science of relationship. It is arguable that fixing relationship will also help fix strategic planning, as well as legal and financial due diligence, by enabling the companies to work together more effectively. And a business’ inability to appreciate and integrate the nuances of relationship into their traditional practices (planning and analysis) is a major factor as well.
Businesses’ inability to foster healthy relationship is
the primary cause of strategic alliance failure.
Evidence of poor relationship includes such things as low trust, poor communication, a lack of openness and transparency, and an overall fear-/scarcity-based climate – all of which impedes both value-discovery and value-creation. Without relationship there can be no value-creation.
Practical Spirituality – A Strategic Imperative
Practical spirituality in alliances is a strategic imperative.
Practical spirituality is about changing ones attitude & mindset in order to deepen relationship. It is about changing perspective – how one chooses to see one’s self and another. Ultimately, spirituality is about being clear about one’s own identity, which leads to a changes in perspective and changes in attitude & mindset.
Change needs to occur, and change occurs in relationship.
Finally, read what it would be like to be a truly transformational manager of business relationships (esp. strategic alliances and partnerships).
[i] For statistics on failure rates and more information on the causes of strategic alliance failures, refer to Managing Alliances for Business Results: Lessons Learned from Leading Companies by Jeff Weiss, Sara Keen and Stuart Kliman, Vantage Partners LLC, which is based on three years of research of more than 100 alliance managers and executives representing 93 companies in a broad range of industries.