Partnership or Team?
A recent conversation with two colleagues led to a discussion about the difference between partnerships and teams. Whereas a key characteristic of teams is having a common goal, they said, partnerships don’t require a shared goal to achieve outcomes of value for each party. That is, while partners must share a purpose or vision, their respective expected outcomes from the collaboration may be very different.
The example my colleagues used is the partnership between Starbucks and Barnes and Noble. Consistent with its mission to “inspire the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time,” Starbucks’ goal is to sell lots of coffee. To achieve its mission of operating the best specialty retail (bookseller) business in America, Barnes and Noble’s goal is to sell lots of books. By creating a partnership for the shared purpose of enhancing customers’ shopping experience, both companies increased their sales when Starbucks started selling its coffee in Barnes and Noble book stores. Because each company brings something to the table that the other doesn’t have, they are able to provide greater value than either one can offer on its own.
Think about some of the partnerships in which organizations engage. Although partners share a common purpose, their respective goals, as well as the roles they play in achieving that purpose, are different. Here are likely goals of some common partnerships:
Public agency and university faculty collaborate on a research project
University and corporation create a center for technology on campus
Non-profit organization and corporation co-host a 5-K run in the community
Here are five ways to set your organization’s partnerships up for success:
The bottom line: a partnership can be more effective and rewarding for both parties if you remember that there are different, legitimate routes to the same destination.
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