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12 Steps to Creating a Successful Alliance
May 15, 2011
Written By: Jim Wahrenbrock and Pete Petersen

As more companies are looking towards joint alliances to address growth needs, we’ve identified 12 steps critical to ensuring success. 
  1. Start by answering questions. Why does an alliance make sense? What do you hope to achieve? What are your options? How will you measure success?
  2. Look before you leap. Identify potential partners and find out all you can about them before you get into any discussions with them.
  3. Share common values. If your business ethics and values are different than your partners, it’s likely the alliance will fail.
  4. Share common goals. Make sure both parties understand and agree to the goals.
  5. Align your interests so you win together or lose together. If the key members of the alliance can succeed in their companies without the alliance succeeding, you haven’t constructed it correctly and the possibilities of failure go up.
  6. Identify an exit strategy. Situations change and alliances end. It’s far easier to end them amicably if you’ve talked about it up front.
  7. Keep the principal leaders involved. Alliances have better success when the people who set them up remain involved. But people move on in their careers, so it’s vital to measure success and communicate results to maintain buy-in. 
  8. Identify the primary go-to people in each company. They may be the principal leaders or others who have been given the responsibility. 
  9. Create an atmosphere of trust and respect. Regular communication is key. The problems that arise can be dealt with if there is an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.
  10. Identify how you will deal with differences. Company cultures vary. One company may have a strong marketing arm and be used to making quick decisions, while another may be outstanding in engineering and used to a more deliberative decision-making process.
  11. Design good metrics to measure results precisely. How you measure results depends on how you put the alliance together. One way is keeping track of profitability, allocating expenses properly so you have a real picture of profits, costs, and expenses.
  12. Share the results. The long-term success of any alliance depends on broad buy-in at many levels. To ensure the alliance doesn’t languish when the originators move on, it’s vital to share the results.

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