We interviewed Ulric Brandt, consultant, trainer and author within Partnering and Strategic Alliances at his company Partnering4business . Ulric is one of our speakers at our November conference this year and he will talk about “How to build business partnerships”.
Ulric has an extensive career in product and project managing, product development and partnering under his belt. Just recently, in the summer of 2017, he published a book on the
topic, with step-by-step guidance on how to manage partnerships and strategic alliances.
Ulric gave us some insights into his way of looking on collaborations.
Looking at the future of partnering, Ulric states that the digitalized world will require a distinctive increase in collaboration on all different levels of doing business.
“It’s on the rise. Industrial collaboration especially, where you collaborate to create something you, as a company, wouldn’t be able to do on your own.”
“As of now, it’s already close to impossible to be the expert and have a niche knowledge of all different areas you as a company have to be involved in.”
“Generally, if you can do something on your own, you shouldn’t try to create a partnership around that task or the risk of things ending badly increases. However, if you find yourself in a situation where it’s hard or maybe even impossible to solve a problem on your own, a partnership is the way to go.”
By working with the topic of partnering and collaboration for a long time and from different points of view, Ulric created a fitting metaphor to describe the concept.
“Partnering is like a marriage. Without knowing a single thing about partnering, you would be approaching 75% of the possible issues correctly by thinking ‘marriage’ before deciding on what to do in any given situation.”
All in all, it’s about building trust.
“And trust is not something you can make an agreement about, it just has to be there.” Adding to this, clearly defining what you want to achieve with the partnership is one of the cornerstones of to build a successful partnership. Establishing a governance model with a joint steering group, securing activities that support the common goal of the partnering area and making sure that the partnership is truly win-win are other important factors to have in mind, Ulric states in an article published on LinkedIn.
Taking more of an ecosystem-approach to partnering, where an organization can be tied to several different partners in different types of agreements, Ulric stresses the importance of clearly defining where the partnership or collaboration begins and where it ends.
“The partnering zone is the area where you have decided to collaborate. A common pitfall is that many companies don’t properly state what the partnership should include or exclude. It’s not uncommon that you are competitors outside the partnering zone and that is something you should continue being.”
“It’s impossible to build trust within the same small zone with several partners, since you are sharing company secrets and data. What you can do however, is to have a number of different partners in different zones that doesn’t compete with each other.”
On the topic of feeling like you are a part of a collaboration network, Ulric states that it completely depends on the number of organizations that are included and to what extent you know the other organizations personally.
“In a small ecosystem, your organization will play an important part. You know the ones working on the other companies by name and you are frequently in contact with each other face-to-face and on the phone. Compare this to being an app developer for Apple, where you at best have some kind of customer support service where you have to identify yourself and your organization with something like a code.”
“Bigger networks like Google Play and Appstore share resources, knowledge and classified information in a very standardized, and successful, way. It’s hard to feel for a million partners but what you might find is trust and a sense of community for the network, looking at it as one big partnering relation.”
“Every app owner or company will feel that they are part of something bigger, but the trust is to the network as an organism, not to Apple.”
Come and learn more about partnering with Ulrich at Tolpagorni's fall Conference on 23rd of November 2017 about Collaboration and Ecosystem Strategies.