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BLOG: What makes partnerships work?

N Raja Venkateswar | April 26, 2011
Innovation is vital for growth.

At a recent conference on Shared Services, I had the pleasure of being on a thought leader panel. It was enlightening to hear and understand the state of the economy and some of the predictions.

My key takeaway from this was simple - the recession isn't over yet, aftershocks abound, innovation is king and capital critical. Nothing new one may argue, as innovation is the key to exponential growth.

One may be able to consistently drive incremental growth by better processes, sales force augmentation, customer centricity etc, but exponential growth can rarely be achieved without innovation, without defining a new paradigm and without taking a critical and objective look at the state of organization.

This event, while focusing on the state of shared services, was enlightening indeed for folks like me, who do not always have the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and opinions. 

One of the interesting approaches was the one expounded by a learned gentleman from Manila who spoke about the Shell way to drive efficiencies in the organization - it was called ESSA - eliminate, standardize, simplify, automate. Essentially the focus is on:

  • Eliminating or reducing waste - applications, multiple locations
  • Standardize processes -by eliminating eccentric processes and training methodologies to decrease eccentric behavior
  • Simplify - deliver best results by decreasing complexity in processes, focus on back office as a means to deliver efficiencies
  • Automate - enlightened investments in information technology driving costs down significantly.

One of the other participants spoke on what makes a good relationship between a customer and a partner and, in particular,r the reason for the governance model to drive value in the relationship - some of them include:

  • Transparency - seems easy enough but the quality of interpersonal relationships, the ability to cut bureaucracy and deliver key messages and expectations and the ability to appreciate and work through different responsibility structures play a critical role in ensuring a transparent relationship;
  • Fun - often missed in the rush to try and make relations work - it is essential to celebrate success and enjoy the time and the relationship;
  • Solidarity and dependability - the ability to have confidence in each other is key to make relationships work and an ability to communicate clear agendas, set expectations and communicate status accurately without any ambiguity;
  • Reasonable and respectful - a relation works despite some clear tension between the key roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders - an innate desire to profit from the customer in case of the vendor and an obvious desire to decrease cost/unit from the customer. However, despite this tension, partnerships that have been able to appreciate others' perspective have worked very well.


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