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Partnership Power!

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We are often asked how we survive the hubbub of our every day business activities, the changing economy and building a balanced life. Simple! It is through our business model of 'collaboration' and support, building trusted partnerships with all our valuable customers, service providers, business colleagues, friends and family. And keeping an 'open door' policy - you never know who will walk in.

What does it mean to "build strong partnerships"? Why do you need to master this vital skill? What practical steps can you take to achieve it, right now? Ron Kaufman from Active Learning shares with us The Four Styles of Interaction to assist with understanding and building partnerships. For his complete article please Click Here:

The Four Styles of Interaction
With competition so intense, winning companies are growing in another vital dimension. In addition to great products, rapid delivery and excellent service mindset, market leaders are now building stronger partnerships with their most valuable clients, suppliers and employees. However, first, let's put 'partnership' in perspective.

There are 4 different styles of interaction in business (and in life) and 3 of them are not partnerships at all!

'The One Shot Deal' - is characterised by a short-term focus between the parties. Beyond completing the exchange of the moment, no lasting commitment is intended nor implied. Asking someone for directions, buying goods at a close-down sale, or picking up a newspaper from the corner news-stand are all clear examples of the 'One Shot Deal'.

'Transaction Satisfaction' - takes more time than a 'One Shot Deal.' More 'moments of truth' (perception points) are involved in these transactions and additional effort is required to meet or exceed customer expectations.

Although no future involvement is promised or required in these transactions, customers do tend to return to those vendors and suppliers who consistently meet their needs.

'Reliable Relationships' - extends 'Transaction Satisfaction' into the future. Consistency and dependability are essential, as customers and suppliers count on each other for more frequent business. When done well, this can evolve into a 'reliable relationship' where both parties consistently benefit over time.

'Powerful Partnerships' - also extends into the future, but the value and importance of the interaction actually grows significantly over time. In a 'powerful partnership' both parties learn that working well together brings new possibilities, unique opportunities and otherwise unachievable growth.

A 'powerful partnership' does not grow unattended. Substantial effort and ongoing investments of time, creativity and resources are required to keep it going and growing.

A Key Question to Consider
Which of these four styles of interaction describe the current situation with your customers, suppliers' colleagues, employees? Amongst the four, where are you right now? Where do you want to be?

Now, focus on how to make your transactions more satisfying, your relationships more reliable and your partnerships increasingly powerful. In each of these styles of interaction, four stages can be identified for self-assessment, competitive evaluation and focused action towards improvement.

1. Explore: The first stage is the domain of exploration, discovery and open-minded speculation. Both parties must engage with a commitment to mutual disclosure and the invention of new possibilities. In business and in personal life, robust exploration uncovers needs, wants, concerns, good and bad past experiences, present constraints, future interests and a wide range of competitive and collaborative considerations.

2. Agree: Robust exploration leads to new opportunities for creating a future together. Initial requests, proposals and offers are often the first step towards mutually satisfactory agreements. In business, excellent agreements are clearly documented, with a detailed listing of specifications and expectations, including quantities, schedules, prices, service levels and warranties (among others).

3. Deliver: With agreements complete, your deliver stage begins. Here you take necessary action to fulfil your promises and thoroughly execute your agreements. You serve, develop, customise, manufacture, test, ship, install, train, modify, upgrade and provide promised training and support.

4. Assure: In many industries, the ability to deliver has been honed to a fine art with six sigma quality controls and continuous cycle time reduction. But effective delivery does not complete the cycle - not if you are interested in continuing or expanding your involvement over time.

"Assure" is one of the most fertile areas for generating new possibilities in business if you accomplish three vital tasks:

  • Check to see if the promises made on both sides have been fulfilled.
  • Confirm that the needs of your customer have been truly satisfied by the actions you have taken.
  • Finally, during the assure process, find ways to work even more effectively together.

Taking a holistic approach
In many organisations, the four stages of improvement are handled by four different departments: explore is the realm of marketing, agreements are completed by sales, deliver is domain of manufacturing, operations and logistics, and assure is provided, if required, by after-sales warranty and customer service.

Unfortunately, this approach often leaves customers with a schizophrenic experience of your organisation. How do you correct it? First, connect the four distinct stages with frequent and detailed communication between departments. Second, institutionalise shared understanding with cross-training, cross-functional teams and longer-term attachments. The more your people understand what colleagues are doing, the better your colleagues and your customers, will be served.

Building a Foundation of Trust
Each time you successfully complete a cycle of explore, agree, deliver and assure, another layer of trust is built between the parties.

This makes good sense in business and it can apply in your personal and social life, as well. Indeed, building trust with others is the foundation for all our successful relationships. It is the necessary glue for strong partnerships we build now and into the future.

From our experience in the industry we see the 'broken cycle' often and believe that when you follow Ron Kaufman's advice, you will build long and strong partner relationships. For the full article please Click Here.

For more information, you can connect with Ron directly on:

And as Ron says - 'Inspire people to learn, improve and grow.'

Winnifred Knight
Director and Owner -
Mobile: 082 575 9922

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