Originally posted on 4/16/2014
“You need to be picky about what alliances you join,” says Bettina. “Multi-party alliances are popping up all over. They are a time sucker. They take much more time to manage than a two-party alliance.”
This is not the enthusiastic promotion of multi-party alliances that I expected when I entered the session on multi-party, multi-sector alliances last month at the 2014 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. USA.
Bettina's goal is to bring parties together to build innovative tech solutions for Verizon. When she says it’s important to take stock of the resources you can assign to a partnership, it resonates. She has the audience's full attention. “Choose alliances that will get you the most bang for your buck,” Bettina advises.
Mark, our moderator who hails from Verizon and the US military, agrees. Nancy, who escaped the brutal Midwestern cold snap to join us in this temperate haven, echoes Bettina's advice. Through a multi-sector, multi-party alliance, Nancy helped create and implement innovative healthcare models to improve the wellbeing of rural communities in Minnesota. "Each party must bring new skills or resources to the alliance," she explains.
The moderator and panelists also agree that the journey to a successful multi-party, multi-sector alliance begins with a toolkit of best practices. True, best practices in alliance management are well-established and well-known throughout the field. Yet the tools are somewhat different for multiparty and multi-sector alliances. That makes the toolkit slightly more complex.
The Multi-Party, Multi-Sector Toolkit: Best Practices
Before you set up a multi-party alliance:
- Assess balance: in organization size, portfolio & offerings.
- Find that portfolio piece that creates a great offering.
- Jointly develop shared goals with partners that align with what you're trying to accomplish. (It doesn't make sense not to.)
- Do your due diligence to find the best partner.
Once you've chosen your alliance partners:
- Establish the primary contacts at each organization, and facilitate communication and coordination within and among organizations on behalf of the partnership.
- Create a plan for shared leadership and decision making. Clarify who does what, when, etc.
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities of players to avoid duplications or gaps in effort.
- Communicate across all parties in the multi-party alliance; include everyone.
- Keep notes even more diligently than you would with a two-party alliance.
- Assess performance.
- Go deeper: the surface differences in culture and behavior create walls.
With that final inspiring tool set firmly in the toolbox, Nancy invites the audience to ask questions, discuss the content of the session, and share their own experiences in MP/MS alliances. "We're not the only ones with answers," she says. "You have them, too. There's a lot of wisdom in this room."