5 Principles of Partnership

3 minute read


Sometimes I worry about the connections my mind makes – but it’s curious how random synapses fly and link some thoughts together. I was recently involved in reviewing The TAS Group’s CHAMP methodology. CHAMP is about helping organizations develop effective Channels and Alliances programs. While I was stuck in that, a friend of mine called to recount tales of his recent trip to Italy, and he wondered out loud about how the Leaning Tower of Pisa continued to lean, but not fall.

This legendary Tower has been leaning since the early days of its construction. It had only reached a height of 10 metres when the foundations started to slip, and it’s the very fact of its weak foundations that has contributed to its notoriety.

At the same time, I was focused on the principles of partnership, considering foundations in a different way – and my befuddled mind starting linking the two together.

While weak foundations are at the heart of the fame of the fabled tower, weak foundations in partnerships are catastrophic.

As you may know, I’ve been very involved recently in progressing the Dealmaker Partner Network, which, at its core, is about building solid partnerships with a number of different companies. When we were setting up basic assumptions for Certified Partners under the DPN, we set out a few basic fundamentals. Here’s how that was presented:

  1. You will receive generous margins to drive significant revenue for your business.
  2. You will be trained and supported by our dedicated partner support.
  3. You will be provided with the world’s best sales effectiveness solutions to provide to your customers
  4. In return, you will commit to take the time to become proficient in our solutions to understand how they can best serve your customers, and you will make reasonable efforts to promote and sell our solutions in line with our mutually agreed expectations.

As I was reviewing CHAMP, I felt that these fundamentals were well encapsulated in the five principles of partnership outlined therein. The five basic tenets combine to set out a framework to build a solid foundation for effective business relationships.

These are:

  1. Trust,
  2. Shared knowledge,
  3. Innovation,
  4. Agreed Goals,
  5. Balance of return.

While some of these are easier to quantify than others, each has a fundamental impact on the strength of the partnership.

Of the five key principles, you’ll see that trust and shared knowledge are at the heart of supporting the other three criteria. Here’s what trust means you need to do:

  • Provide unbiased, honest advice
  • Deliver on your commitments
  • Take the lead
  • Bring in business opportunities
  • (and) Make quick decisions

Similarly, shared knowledge is particularly important, whether it’s good news or bad news. Sharing knowledge with your partner means:

  • Providing not just information, but also insight
  • Focusing on business advantages
  • Two way sharing
  • (and) Building trust

It’s been over 800 years since the famous tower at Pisa started to lean, and it hasn’t collapsed yet.

Partnerships however will not experience any longevity without the five cornerstones I’ve outlined here, buttressed and reinforced by particular emphasis on the twin pillars of trust and shared knowledge.

What experiences have you had with partnerships? Do they generally work for you? Are there principles I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your view.


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