Good friends are great to have, right? I am sure you have a lot of acquaintances, even some colleagues, and other people you generally consider friends. That's great, but how many close friends do you have? Close friends are people that are around to share in your successes. However, the thing that really makes them close friends is that they are around to support you when things are not going so well.
In our daily lives, many of us look to build relationships with people upon which we can depend. We want to have their backs, but we want to ensure they have ours as well. Better yet, we want to develop long-lasting relations with such individuals. The desire to build long-term, meaningful, and fruitful relationships in our personal lives applies to our businesses and work lives as well. In fact, in business many companies may refer to such relationships with other organizations as strategic partnerships.
A strategic partnership occurs when two or more companies form an alliance that will give each the ability to achieve what each may not have been able to achieve alone. For example, one party in the partnership may possess a business asset (skills, financial resources, manufacturing processes, and others) that the other party lacks. What ultimately occurs is that the parties in the alliance combine their resources, and they are able to work together to produce results that benefit both parties. Strategic partnerships typically produce win-win situations. Otherwise, there would be no real business incentive for developing them. The following sections discuss forming effective strategic partnerships from a business and professional standpoint. As typical in my posts, I approach the topic from an unconventional perspective, but one that will surely motivate you to think outside the box.
Important Factors in Forming a Strategic Partnership
Though the process can be very daunting and complicated, forming strategic alliances involve several important considerations. Here are just a few of the many elements to analyze before partnering with other businesses or individuals. The goal, of course, is to develop a win-win relationship.
Identify a common vision. Where do each of you want to be in the future? How do your goals relate to theirs?
Evaluate the mission, goals, and objectives of your potential ally. What is their means (way/mission) to an end (end-state vision)? Is it contrary to yours? Can you foresee a problem between their mission and yours? If so, they may not be a good match for you.
Evaluate your partner's core competencies. For instance, what skills and expertise does your partner bring to the table? Are their abilities valuable to you or your organization? Also, determine your strengths and weaknesses; see if the partner can fill the gap. You want to make sure your partner has what it takes to lead you to success. Try to become affiliated with experts in a particular field of interest to you or your organization.
Organizational culture refers to the ‘psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization'. Your strategic partner's organizational culture should mesh with yours. Otherwise, you're probably setting yourself up for a clash somewhere down the line. Adopt their organizational culture, impart yours upon them, or develop a unique culture to serve you both. In either case, the culture should be supported and embraced by both firms.
Character relates to organizational culture in many ways. However, in this case I'm specifically referring to the personality and traits of the leadership. A leader's character, whether good or bad, may influence others in your organization to take on the same. Does your prospective partner operate with integrity? Forming an alliance with a virtuous person or organization that operates in integrity will prove favorable to you or your firm in the long run.
What significant resources does your partner possess (equipment, processes, information, personnel, finances, networks, leads, or others)? Could your new ally help you achieve your vision based on their resources? Your partner's resources should add value to the partnership.
Are you affiliated with the person or business that has a track record of success? What substantial milestones have they achieved in the past? Past successes are a good indicator of future success.
Loyalty & Commitment
Are you attempting to form an alliance with a business or individual that demonstrates loyalty to you? Are they truly interested in working with you over the long-term? Do they really appreciate your work and experience in the industry, or are they simply in it for the short-term (perhaps to get a quick reward, only to never be found again)?
In addition, try to affiliate yourself with partners that are committed. Is your prospective ally willing to do whatever is reasonable and necessary to achieve success? A pastor of mine once said, ‘The proof of desire is in pursuit'. Will your partners put forth the work and effort that demonstrates their commitment to the relationship? Will they nurture the relationship to achieve a win-win? Will they try to meet and exceed your expectations? Will they be a partner in name only, or do they show signs of being able to back up their words? The answer to such questions may take good intuition on your part. However, they are questions that should certainly be considered.
In any event, a strategic partner should be loyal and committed, and be willing to work with you to achieve long-term success. Partner with people and firms that will more than likely stick with you through adversity in order to get a triumph.
Good partners will help you achieve your success. Assess whether or not you are forming an alliance with one that can help you get the victory.
Gifts are a common part of any friendship or partnership, even in business. One of the perks of forming good friendships is that you can give and receive gifts from each other. More importantly, your new partner is likely to know what types of gifts you value. What better way to honor a good partnership than by giving a gift? Give gifts, and receive the same from your new ally.
A Strategic Partner that Exceeds all Expectations
I didn't discuss the implications of strategic partnerships for naught. I'm actually going somewhere with this. Here is where I am going:
**Work with the best to become the best!**
In other words, we should be seeking to work with the very best partners around. They should be better than you, which ultimately makes you better. Hence, the old adage, “Iron sharpens iron” is a good consideration in forming a strategic alliance.
God: The Best of the Best
While partnering with industry leaders is a great way to achieve business success, we should be taking strategic partnerships one step further. That is, we need to be connected to the absolute best partner around. That, of course, is God. People are limited by their abilities and resources, and so are organizations. It's perfectly fine and expedient to network with people and businesses. Nonetheless, if we want the ultimate success without restraints, we need to be connected to the One that can get us there. That, of course, is God.
Comparing God to the Strategic Partnership Checklist
In comparing God's qualifications to the issues I identified as critical to successful strategic partnerships, here is what I came up with. I provide biblical examples of how God will meet or exceed our expectations.
God wants us to inherit His Kingdom and partake in its rewards:
Luke 12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Do you share this vision? If so, you have a potential partner in God.
God wants to get us saved and walking upright so that we may inherit the blessings God wants to bestow upon us:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
I will be glad to have you know that God's abilities are infinite. He can do far more than we can ever imagine, because He is far greater than we can ever imagine. Consider this verse:
Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
God's Kingdom, or ‘organization' has a positive, progressive culture. His organization ALWAYS bares good fruit.
Note: See my post entitled, ‘My Fathers Business' to see how God's Kingdom is the perfect benchmark for any business.
We've all probably heard the saying, ‘Birds of a feather flock together'. Why wouldn't we want to be associated with an individual of good character? Good produces good; and God has a perfect character, as evidenced by these Bible verses:
Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
In partnering with God, you will have unrestricted access to God's unlimited resources. Consider these Bible verses related to God's resources:
Deu 6:10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not.
Deu 6:11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Deu 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
Psa 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Pro 2:7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
Pro 8:18 Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
Pro 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Consider the biblical stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, and countless others. These were ordinary men and women that God made GREAT! God has a proven record.
Loyalty & commitment
God will NEVER leave you. [See Psalms 23]:
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Note: Would any of your current partners leave you when you're in the valley of the ‘shadow of death'?
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Note: God will never leave! God also goes with you through firey furnaces as well (See Daniel 3).
In forming a strategic partnership with God, you get an absolute, unstoppable victory! Why? Simply because He wins, He cannot lose, and you're on the winning team. How many of your current partners can guarantee you a victory, and back that up with their infinite ability to direct and produce success?
Note: You don't even have to be a starter. Even players on the bench share in the victory.
Here are a few encouraging Bible verses that illustrate God's ability to direct success:
Psa 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Dan 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
God gives gifts. Even better, He gives gifts that are much better than you can get from any other friend or partner. That is because God has infinite resources. There are no resource constraints with Him. Here are some great biblical examples:
Mat 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Luk 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
Note: See the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.
God gives great gifts. And they all come from His treasury.
Forming the Strategic Partnership: Getting Started
Creating a strategic partnership with God is easy. All you have to do is decide that you want to partner. Once that decision is made, pursue God. Be humble and seek Him and His wisdom and blessings with all your heart. For example, start reading the Bible and related books. That post discusses how I first started learning about God and developed a partnership with Him.
Finally, pray, praise, fellowship with others, and get moving. Decide today you want to develop a sustainable competitive advantage over your competition by forming a strategic partnership with God.
I leave you with some other important takeaways:
-Recognize that God is your ultimate ally.
-Get connected with God. Position yourself for success!
-Build and nurture the relationship. Do just as you would with a real friend. Put in time!
-Welcome more friends into the strategic partnership. Build your network.
In hopeful partnership,