In time for Valentine’s Day, I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal that asks the question “What makes marriage work over the long term?” Each of the four celebrity couples interviewed had a different answer to the question, and Scott and I have yet a different answer (stay open to growth and change within ourselves and each other, and adapt our relationship accordingly). Ultimately, each couple must find a solution that works for their unique marriage.
Just as the key to a successful marriage is unique for each couple, the key to a successful business relationship is unique. Over the years, we’ve encountered companies that attempted to standardize relationships with their alliance partners, outsource providers, consultants, and other external stakeholders. These arrangements then wandered into difficulty due to overlooked or underestimated issues of shifting and competing priorities, rigid policies, and cultural differences of each company. Conducting due diligence around these issues before making commitments can prevent some of these issues, but it’s not the entire solution.
Obviously, some basic standards must be satisfied for a relationship to succeed (i.e., shared vision, values, etc.). However, beyond the logic of the relationship, it’s essential to recognize and honor its uniqueness. Building a bridge to “our way” and adjusting it over time may not be as convenient as mandating that things be done “my way,” but it pays off exponentially in enabling each person (or company) to get more of the results they really want.