Is This Really The Current Cutting Edge?

Having attended a recent collaborative working event, it seems that the “cutting edge” of working with partners is occasional consultant-led interviews with a few key people that was then quantitatively analysed around KPIs. Is this really the best possible?!

I recently attended a two-day event for collaborative working professionals and one session on the agenda particularly caught my eye.

It was billed as an overview of how a leading pharmaceutical company sought to obtain an “aligned and nuanced” overview of how it is perceived by its partners, such that it could become an “industry partner of choice“.

Clearly this would be a session that focused on new and differentiating ways of engaging with Ecosystem partners – more breadth and depth; harnessing technology; that kind of thing.

Or so I thought.

The Apparent State of the Cutting Edge

Instead, what I saw presented was:

  • Annual/biannual interviews with 2-3 interviewees at each of 15 partners…
  • …to give feedback on how far the company in question was adhering to the principles it had itself identified for partnering…
  • …conducted by external consultants…
  • …who had then performed “quantitative analysis” to identify strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint training needs.

This was positioned as an extension and enhancement of KPIs and alliance scorecards, all of which was to “ensure a worthwhile return on investment“.

The presentation concluded by acknowledging that all this was “time and resource intensive“, but that partners really “appreciated the engagement and commitment” shown.

Is This Really the Best They Could Do?

It was hard to know where to start with this rehash of familiar, ineffective and unambitious methods and assumptions.

In terms of what the feedback was on, was this company really deciding entirely on its own what was important in being a “partner of choice” without actually asking what mattered to those partners in this respect?

And was this company really making its own ROI the overarching priority on behalf of its alliances? How did that play out with their partners?

In terms of the feedback itself:

  • Was this company really satisfied with feedback potentially only every 2 years?
  • Would 2-3 people at each partner really give a full and “nuanced” perspective from that partner?
  • Would 15 partners – let’s remember this is a big company – really be enough to draw any conclusions? Were these 15 partners even representative?

In terms of how the company was going about it:

  • Was this company really delegating responsibility for its own understanding to a third party consultant?
  • How long must this entire exercise have taken? Would feedback – especially after undergoing the “quantitative analysis” – even still be relevant and current by the time it was processed?
  • Was this company really saying that the answer to any issues was simply more training?

Overall, was this really the cutting edge of current “best practice” when it comes to how relationships are managed?

“Yes”, I realised, it really is.

The Current Status Quo

After all, most companies remain mired in failing conventional approaches where the gap between required and actual results continues to widen.

They continue to perceive Value at its lowest possible levels and have apparently no real concept that the Things That Matter need to be mutually surfaced, understood, aligned and managed – not imposed.

Instead, they assert vague “principles” which are little more than buzzwords, with apparently little-to-no effort to “ground” these in real ways that guide and motivate action.

To try and “embed” these principles, they then default to some form of survey, likely on the basis of ticking the box for engaging people (possibly even as part of the DEI agenda).

So, whilst this company pretty much also demonstrated all these traits (including that their “principles” were all completely vague notions like “Resources”, “Communication”, “Value” and “Trust”) , they had at least tried to get an external perspective.

And they’d maybe tried to make things more personal than a survey by arranging for interviews.

In these senses, I realised that probably does mean they are cutting-edge relative to others: what they’ve done really could seem new, “enlightened” or “groundbreaking” to many.

In the land of the blind, after all, the one-eyed man is king.

Where Next, Then?

From one perspective, this is pretty depressing.

After all, whilst I don’t attribute this to any deliberate or sinister agenda, it does reflect that most people and companies are totally unaware of the complete imbalance in how they think and operate.

Even if the results then ought to be a wake-up call, this leads them to persist in pursuing the “wrong” kind of simplicity.

Change is certainly going to be hard for many.

But, from another perspective, the dire state of the current “cutting-edge” indicates that there’s a huge opportunity.

After all, just imagine how mind-blowing it would be if people and companies truly understood the alternative to the above, where:

  • They could be truly in tune with, and responsive to changes in, Value.
  • They could engage potentially all of their partners at once, and at limitless scale with Diagnostics – with instant feedback and continuous iteration.
  • The Things That Matter to both partners in each relationship could be mutually surfaced, understood, aligned and managed.
  • There was a way of moving far beyond “quantitative analysis” to truly focus on measuring and managing the key subjective Things That Matter – to look forward and not just retrospectively understand the past.
  • They could take responsibility themselves for understanding each relationship and the wider context it is part of; not abdicate this responsibility – whether through laziness or lack of confidence – to a third party.
  • (And that this would save enormous sums of money in today’s climate of scarcity!)

That alternative? Our mission, Value Management, which some leading companies are already intuitively realising is the only way to go.

But what about you?

Are you satisfied with a situation where your “best” approach is paying consultants large sums to generate analysis every couple of years? Where you “tell” your partners what matters?

Or are you ready to embrace the only approach that truly understands Value, makes instant insights possible and establishes, focuses-on and delivers-on the Things That Matter most…?

Let us know if that’s you…!