The secret of solving the alliance cube
Like many of us, during the pandemic, I’ve home-schooled my children. This has led to some interesting experiments, not least to us parents.
One thing I’ve recognized is that sometimes it might be helpful to share the solution upfront and let your kid figure out the way(s) to get there. Like with solving the Rubik’s cube, knowing the outcome can help to structure your path to the solution. However, one should always start with putting the foundation in place, and certain tactics can help to become better and faster in the process.
Here I would like to share my recommendations and a visual guide to scrambling the Alliance Cube. It’s good to note, that the starting point for every alliance is unique and one never gets the cube ready-made. The first layers require the most time and effort. Often it is necessary to turn the Cube a few extra times – and have patience with it – but I can assure you: seeing the final solution is always worth the investment!
The Components of our Alliance Cube
The basic formula of the Alliance Cube is simple: You need two hands – one hand per partner – to work it out.
The foundation layers: trust as fundament
It all starts with spinning, getting familiar with the Cube and your companion player. The basic formula of the Alliance Cube is simple: You need two hands – one hand per partner – to work it out. Both parties must put in the same amount of effort, discipline, an open-mind and patience in order to turn the cube smartly and resolve it.
- Shared vision
The very basis for a successful partner selection is to create win-win scenarios: align and develop a shared vision that pulls and motivates both parties to collaborate and strengthen the alliance. This is the first and most important step, which boosts mutual motivation and will help to set joint targets and further actions.
- Trust and commitment
Building trust always takes time. Stakeholders from various organization levels must establish direct relationships to learn and discuss informally with each other. Open, honest and meaningful exchange is crucial for any partnership that pursues long-term success. Although it might sound counterproductive in the first place, having frequent ‘escalation sessions’ to clarify issues is vital to building trust. By listening and solving problems together in a crisis, partners form a strong bond.
Once this foundation of the cube is in place, one shall respect and protect it – and start building the next layers on top (blue components in the image).
Get in the system: governance
Ultimately, we work in people business and only by ensuring everyone’s participation we can build a productive alliance. Thus, one of the key tasks of an alliance manager is to build a comprehensive understanding of the key stakeholders, their intentions and contributions in the partnership.
A stakeholder-matrix helps to identify and prioritize the stakeholder management responsibilities. With a clear overview of the joint governance, one should then initiate regular exchange between the organizations: arrange kick-offs, steering committees and make sure that the communication is frequent and flows on all levels. Furthermore, it is important to identify and bring together the right, complementing people. The counterparts should have similar roles and responsibilities, sharing the same interests and motivation.
Create your own algorithm: joint value proposition
To achieve a competitive edge, we must create innovation and value to our customers in a way neither the competition nor the alliance partners could achieve individually. After determining together what makes the joint solutions unique, it is important to ensure robust delivery (focus on covering the light blue fields). Both organizations must train and enable the necessary experts in their organization. After an offering has reached “sales readiness”, the last challenge for partners is to identify the best “go-to-market” for it, raise sales awareness and trigger a flashy launch with appropriate marketing measures.
Keep the focus: customer value
Eventually solving the Alliance Cube is not rocket science. It’s just about executing the necessary steps in a coordinated manner and ensuring that both hands move at the same pace: to improve multiple sides of the cube and eventually crack the solution code to generate innovation and value for the client.
The increasingly complex and fast-moving world calls for all companies to cooperate. The demands of people, and hereby the requirements of our customers, are constantly changing. Mavericks don’t get far in these environments! Alliances are a natural constitution to answer these needs and form innovations for businesses. Shared knowledge, experience and combined solutions from two or more partners is a differentiator that no company can neglect in the future.
A well-designed and managed partner ecosystem is vital for sustainable growth – especially in highly sophisticated industries like IT. Atos puts alliances in the core of our strategy to create Win-Win-Win situations to our customers, partners and ourselves. This Alliance Cube is a result of the numerous best practices we’ve collected in my Alliance and Channels team and I hope it helps as a mindset and guideline to ensure your next alliance lives up to its full potential!
Just grab the cube, start spinning and have fun on the way!
P.S. Searching for a safe place for your Alliance Cube? I’d suggest putting it in YOUR "backpack". Read the previous blog here