“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.” – Bruce Lee.
The development of focused relationships with partners, allies and networks is a greater driver of innovation than countless rounds of internal brainstorming and intranet posts asking for everyone to be a bit more creative. Yet often individuals and companies cannot get over that first collaborative relationship step and move towards acting, testing and building something new, that could be greater than the sum of their two parts. Bruce Lee, knew a thing or two about the need to act and not just think.
When surveyed 80% of top executives agree their organisations need to innovate differently and 86% say that partnerships and collaboration is the key to innovation. Yet – only 21% say they are developing them. In their latest 2012 Innovation Monitor, General Electric call this – The Partnership Paradox. So why does it exist? And what can we do to change it?
Brands and businesses do not really have relationships between each other. A laser printer does not set up meeting with the coffee machine and the old laptop case to have a chat about the relative costs of A4 paper. A delivery van does not have a workshop with a fork-lift truck to clarify a key delivery schedule. It is people – and the conversation between them that drives business activity, ideas and progress. Businesses have a legal status, missions, KPI’s, logs, processes and systems. But it is large complex, sometimes emotional, and often stressed ape like creatures such as you and me that do the talking and the listening. No matter what you do, or who you work for, if you’re in the business of marketing & innovation – you are in the conversation business.
Willie Wash, the CEO of International Airlines Group – the holding company of British Airways (BA) and Iberia – moves fast. He heads up a fast paced business – each year carrying 49 million humans all over the world in its fleet of 419 jets. Willie Walsh talks fast. He takes questions easily and answers them quickly, peppering his comments with facts, stats and detail. His to do list will cover everything from oil prices to volcanoes, from tourism to terrorism. And last night he entertained a packed room at Adam Street Club – offering a rare insight into the type of character that leads a global business that employs 56,000 people with revenues north of £14 billion.
Partnerships and alliances are good for business. Big business has always known this — from McDonald’s building global co-promotions with Coca-Cola and Walt Disney, to Nike building trainers that talk to your iPhone. But alliances can bring significant benefits for small firms too – something I discuss in this article within MarketingDonut. In the article I outline the four main partnership tactics that small businesses can use; (1) Revenue Partners (2) Supplier Partners, (3) Industry Alliances and (4) Promotional and PR. These are the kind of marketing programmes that are used by some of the world’s biggest brands – because they’re cost effective and work. So if they’re not already doing so, isn’t it time small businesses started to build these approaches into their plans too? For more information on partnership tips and advice see Benchstone.co.uk