Organizations only have one chance to set up an alliance correctly. Stakes are high: companies commit significant resources to alliance deals that are central components of their long-term strategies. Too often, however, such details get “thrown over the fence” from those who identify the asset to those responsible for negotiating the deal, and finally to those responsible for executing the relationship with the partner. Such a process often results in a failure to set the alliance up for operational success, regardless of the robustness of the contract or the skill of the managers involved, ultimately preventing the alliance from delivering the value its crafters had envisioned.
Organizations commonly think that once a “kick-off meeting” has happened the alliance is up and running, ready for execution; but the unique operational complexity of partnerships requires a more systematic approach to launching a new relationship. Organizations should instead treat the first “100 days” of a new relationship as an opportunity to put in place a set of key deliverables — governance structures, processes, behavioral norms, communication and decision-making plans — that will enable effective execution of joint activities going forward.