Managing an alliance differs dramatically from managing an internal project. Alliances involve shared control, an anathema to many executives. No contract or set of metrics will adequately direct the countless “micro-decisions” that create success, or underlay failure. Alliance management must be systematic, results-focused, while balancing the incentives, interests and emotions of people involved. The “rules of the game” understood by all in a given firm give way to a more fluid, uncertain alliance environment. Even seemingly small differences in frequency and type of communication, working hours, and management style can create friction and lead to serious disruption. Especially when an alliance involves substantial daily interaction between partner companies’ personnel, the scope for conflict is great.
True North Advisers helps clients shape and institute alliance-management protocols–processes, tools, and metrics–combined with behavior-change approaches that support collaboration and innovation. By helping our clients take a balanced operational-strategic-behavioral approach, we can tailor solutions to specific needs. The result is scalable, consistent alliance performance that functions within the clients core organization and culture.
We help clients avoid the “best-practices trap.” Frequently firms seek to duplicate elements of another organization’s alliance practices. This rarely ends well. The best alliance practitioners have systems that are finely tailored to the company’s business, operating processes, culture, and history. One cannot simply cut-and-paste. Our Senior Advisers have built and run highly successful alliance programs. They help clients to learn from others while integrating sustainable alliance management into particular settings.
Many clients come to True North Advisers with alliances already in place. A significant part of our practice involves helping to re-invigorate those alliances. Through alliance health checks and operational reviews we help clients to achieve higher levels of performance from existing alliances, setting the stage for increased business success.