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Mathematics for the Collaborative Business World

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/13/2014

A professor at Northeastern University once told me what he loves about mathematics is the fact that the language of math is universal: unaffected by geography, culture, ethnicity, or religious practices. 1+1=2. 3÷1 = 3. 10-10 = 0.

My math professor friend is mistaken. I know this, because I learned it from Ben Gomes-Casseres at the 2014 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. USA.

A professor of International Business, and Director of the MBA program and the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Brandeis, Ben is also the principal at Alliance Strategy Consulting. This afternoon, he is presenting his ideas about "Creating Value: The Three Rules of Success" at the Summit. Ben writes three formulas on the board:

1 + 1 = 3

1 + 1 = 1, and finally

1 + 1 = 1.3 + 1.7

Believe it or not, the man does know how to add. However, just as each industry has its own unique language, the collaborative business world has its own unique mathematical formulas.

1 + 1 = 3 illustrates the concept of value creation in strategic alliances. What you bring to the table plus what your partner brings to the table should lead to enhanced value for the customer. Therefore, if your two-party alliances are only creating a value of 2, then something isn't right.

The next equation, 1 + 1 = 1 does not contradict the former. Rather, this equation simply refers to the unification of purpose. In a marriage, two people become one. In business alliances, when two parties come together they must synchronize their mission, vision and actions, if the alliance is to succeed.

The last equation, 1 + 1 = 1.3 + 1.7 elucidates the concept that each partner in the alliance must gain at least a little something for the alliance to be worthy of the additional time and effort required of the process.

This content is rich, but Ben only scratches the surface. He is facing a room packed with engaged but exhausted people. This is one of the sessions in the last slot of the conference, so all of the attendees are fairly fried. Rather than "going all intellectual" on us, Ben shows us extremely short films about monkeys and metronomes that drive these concepts home with crystal clarity. The idea is implanted in my brain. And I look forward to following up with Ben Gomes-Casseres and sharing our conversation with you in a future issue of Strategic Alliances Magazine.

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