Originally posted on 11/22/2013
The first 100 days is as important to an alliance as it is to a presidency. In his presentation “Beyond the Kickoff: How to Get the Ball Rolling and Launch Your Alliance Right,” Stuart Kliman
, CA-AM, founding partner at Vantage Partners, posed the question “What is purpose of the first 100 days of a new alliance?” The audience provided a range of answers: put in place operating rules, begin building the critical relationships (both 1:1 relationships and “the working relationship between the two organizations”), establish clear lines of communication and trust, align with mutual goals, put governance in place, and implement operating norms.
To Kliman, the primary purpose for the first 100 days is to create an alliance that is “well set up for effective execution.” He proposed four categories to think about what this might look like:
- Alignment – alliance objectives established, fair financial agreement , timely decisions made by appropriate parties, etc.
- Execution – e.g., performance metrics being met.
- Leadership – alliance leaders understand their roles, spirit of contract understood, etc.
- Collaboration – opportunities for joint value creation are identified, partners take a joint problem solving approach to conflict resolution and escalation, etc.
Kliman then established that the post-launch plan consists of a technical plan focused on the science of alliance management (the what) as well as an operational plan that details the execution (the how). A little later, he outlined four overlooked aspects of a strong launch:
- early deliverables-focused joint planning
- clearly defined and engaged launch leadership
- operationalizing governance through chartering
- enabling alliance-enhancing behaviors
Kliman summarized the joint planning element in four elements:
- Bring the alliance management joint planning team in prior to deal close
- Prepare new alliance launch planning session with this team
- Iterate the approach with key stakeholders at both partners and get input
- Submit a joint alliance launch plan for review to the highest governance body
Next, he outlined six deliverable planning categories: 1) leadership (e.g., alliance leadership goals), 2) governance structure (e.g., committees and teams), 3) protocols for working together (e.g., mitigation strategies), 4) formal communication planning (both external and internal), 5) operational infrastructure (e.g., scorecards, dedicated IT resources), 5) human capital (e.g., onboarding process, skill development).
To execute a leadership launch, a joint alliance launch team sits within a launch leadership team, with the former treating the latter as “clients.” The core launch team is accountable for the execution of the launch, while the leadership team provides guidance along the way. In addition, an ad hoc support team consisting of functions such as IT augments both the leadership and launch teams.
To operationalize the governance, each committee needs a charter about why and how to work together replete with challenges, goals, reports (e.g., what comes to the committee, how frequently, and from whom), key decisions within the committee’s remit, and related processes.
"The charter document is important, but the discussion is more important,” said Kliman.
He then transitioned to the last element of a strong launch: enabling alliance-enhancing behaviors. One key component is to have senior leadership create a normative behavioral view of how those involved should work together—e.g, what does “lead party” mean when you assign someone that designation? What does final “decision making” authority mean?
At the end of your first 100 days, once deliverables have been met, Kliman recommended certifying that the Joint Steering Committee and the alliance is up and running and operational.
“The alliance launch structure goes away. Its mission has been met,” he said.