Human Bridges: Building Positive Partnerships

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    What makes a partnership successful? Companies, just like people, have a series of needs and a good partnership provides both parties with something of value. This seems so obvious. Why is it then, that some partnerships work and others fail? For over 13 years of Internet consulting, I have been involved with partnerships of all sorts and here are a couple key lessons that I have learned:

    Healthy partnerships are just like healthy relationships. A good business partnership is based on strength, not weakness. Both sides are looking for a win/win. If one side is winning and the other is losing, the partnership is off balance and will continue down this path unless a major correction is made. David Packard in the HP Way noted that in his professional experience, relationship that started poorly never corrected.

    Behind the product or service are the people. Getting to know the human faces behind the product or service opens new possibilities because people are even more dynamic than products and services.

    Working together should be fun. Positive energy and and positive communication is the foundation of any positive group experience. Beyond the deadlines, the goals, the data, and the deliverables are opportunities to have fun. I am under the firm belief that if stress and tension rules the interaction, that same stress and tension will work its way throughout the end result. If the process is fun and the team is working hard but enjoying it, it will be even more effective and, quite simply, fun. Life is too short not to have fun.

    The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, we've all heard this before but when have we truly come out of a group interaction or a project saying to ourselves, "Wow, that is incredible." When the team dynamics challenge all involved and individuals can synergize with the team, sometimes truly awesome things do happen.

    I cut my teeth working for an Internet startup company in 1995. The owners had signed a contract for two years which was a loose for them and a win for the other company. This dynamic could be felt in every email, every phone call, and every transaction. The other company was the winner and our company was the loser. Not only was it unprofitable, it was also unpleasant. Of course, the partnership failed, and I learned a critical lesson.

    Andrew Gold is President of AKGold Internet, Inc. ( based in San Francisco, California.