The Leaders guide to Creating Successful Strategic Partnerships


RP_Group_blueToday partnerships are becoming prominent growth engines inside many companies. Strategic partnerships are becoming more vital to the competitive advantage of businesses. Learn why it is important and get tools to create successful strategic partnerships in this blog post.    

Businesses operate in volatile and uncertain environments. If you want to win in this type of environment it is necessary to learn to explore opportunities with speed and decisiveness. Also, companies are increasingly expected to join with other organizations and companies, both public and private, to not only address social and environmental problems but also solve them. It is not trendy to own assets – rather it is trendy to have the possibility to access assets, hence leveraging external resources (forming strategic partnerships) rather than building it within the company is top of mind with many executives.

The value derived from the right partnerships can be huge. Partnerships can help fuel greater market share and give a competitive advantage. They can increase revenue, lead to stronger customer loyalty and enhance financial performance.

A good strategic partnership according to Wikipedia is: “A party with which a long-term agreement is reached for sharing of physical and/or intellectual resources in an achievement of defined common objective”. A partnership to me is a relationship with shared economics, mutual successes, perhaps shared customers and with a culture to co-develop. Most importantly both parties must feel equitable, get good value from the arrangement, and the partnership is achieving its objectives.

What does it take to create a successful strategic partnership? Stefan Lindegaard, author of “Making open innovation work” mentions, that during a conversation with P&G’s Open Innovation Manager Chris Toen he listed trust and integrity as two of the characteristics P&G are looking for in their strategic partnerships. Also, he mentions good chemistry in the working relationship, responsive partners who align with purpose, values, and principles. Barriers for trust is typically something which we take for granted, something which is typically part of the way we live and have organized our business life. Most companies view external partners as someone who is paid to deliver a specific service rather than a source of co-creation. Large companies can be inherently skeptical about the capabilities of small companies, though we must not forget that.

Never before have we had access to so many tools to connect and collaborate with others. These connections are transcending organizational and national boundaries and inspiring so many new people to step into the responsibility of contributing to change. This generation of change makers is spreading out through all areas of society, business, and government, and they’re not going to compromise on profit versus planet versus people, they’re going to invent a new way.

The must do’s:

The best partnerships have a shared vision and purpose, clear objectives with defined KPIs, adequate resourcing and management for operationalising, and transparent, effective governance. Appreciation for and experience in partnership management is very helpful to ensure they are effective. Professional facilitators may be helpful for some partnerships where this experience is not available in the house. When drafting the vision it is important to define a compelling picture of what the partnership can achieve and specifically how it is going to get there.

I like to work with structure. Hence the first phase would be to choose the right partners. The second phase would be to introduce the new partnerships to the organization and the third phase is about managing the partnership. This will include the practical every day nurturing of the partnership to help it flourish and ensure that the partnership moves in the right direction.

A structure helps to:

  • Bring awareness and reinforcement about partnerships internally.
  • Helps build commitment and support from internal managers.
  • Keeps the value and goals of partnerships clearly in focus for internal managers and all stakeholders
  • Put’s in place a method to flag a problem and address it
  • Repeatability: Learn and repeat successes

If you would like to be inspired by other Strategic Partnerships then there is a list of 11 case stories right here.

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.


  1. A shared vision is so important, and can manifest in multiple ways, even small ones. It’s great how you bring it up. A partnership is like a personal relationship in the sense that you have to nurture it, and it’s best to build on common ground. There was a study done that demonstrated negotiators who emphasized the common ground were 3X more likely to succeed in the negotiation than those who didn’t.

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