I know this is restating the obvious in today’s world, but it is so important that it deserves restatement: “The only thing constant is change.”  This concept is attributed to the ancient Greek, Heraclitus, not some recent management guru, but it is increasingly important in a world when that pace of change has accelerated.  This reality of constant change creates an imperative for continuous innovation.  One avenue for innovation can be through identifying and forming strategic partnerships.

Strategic partnerships are like any meaningful relationship.  Like any relationship, to be effective, partnerships take work.  A good article about rethinking talent that included partnerships as a means to consider, noted the following, “To be effective, these relationships (partnerships used as an extension of talent for a company) have to be cultivated, monitored and deepened.  Partnerships can no longer be treated as mere supply relationships, but extensions of the talent ecosystem.”

So how might you incorporate strategic partnerships as a means to innovation for your offer?  When you have completed the exercise of asking yourself about what might be missing from your offer (from your customers’ perspectives), you may realize that a partnership or alliance could be beneficial to consider for augmenting your current offer.  A partnership, well selected and crafted and nurtured for beneficial win/win can be helpful to:

  • Fill skills and talent gaps;
  • Deliver elements necessary to form a more comprehensive solution (from the customer’s point of view);
  • Deliver complimentary elements or expertise or relationships that make an offer more useful for a vertical application;
  • Extend the viability of your offer with better geographic or cultural expertise and coverage;
  • Improve your product through better more mutually beneficial supplier relationships;
  • Speed up the time that you can bring your product to market;

Because the only constant is change, these partnerships may serve a purpose during a specific period of time or be of a nature that spans the lifeline of a product or offer.  A red flag, however, is to not frame a plan around a partnership when it is just all about you.  A key mistake is to believe you are in a “partnership” when in reality you simply want to use the other partner to your gain, if it is all about you and ignores the concept of a win / win for the partner, it is probably not going to yield long term incremental value to you or to your end customers.

As shared in previous posts, any of these explorations into potential areas for innovation or evolution really start with understanding who the customer is that you aspire to capture and even more importantly understanding what they care about.  Have you tried to partner strategically in the past in your company?  Did you know explicitly why you believed the partnership would benefit your customers?  Are there areas you could consider partnerships to support continuous innovation?

Partnerships and strategic alliances as integrated elements in your business model are important and often overlooked opportunities to innovate and capture new growth for your business.  There are many different reasons that a partnership or alliance incorporated into your business model can be beneficial.

Just a sample of a few of the options for potential innovation through alliances and partnerships follow (and look for future posts with more examples or get them delivered to your mailbox by subscribing to the Lumen Insights blog updates):

  • Faster time to market yielding the opportunity for earlier market traction and first mover advantage;
  • Enhanced completeness of the offer through the alliance shoring up competitive separation and differentiation for your offer;
  • Greater reach supporting access to a larger set of potential clients;
  • Complimentary skills or features which would be costly for your company to develop on your own, thus driving up the overall price for your offer;

All of the above, and many other just like them can be sources of value for your business. However, possibly the most powerful reasons for partnerships and alliances are those that support incremental value from the perspective of the customers’ point of view.   Consider your current offer in the marketplace and ask yourself these questions: Read More

The opportunity to delve in and really get to the essence of a value proposition can be an excellent opportunity to innovate and differentiate your company and offers through a myriad of ways.  The actionable outcome of exploring your value proposition and how it plays out in your offers is to identify gaps and areas to refine your offer through either strategic partnerships, addition of new elements, different packaging and pricing, and more.  Wikipedia defines the  whole product as “the product augmented by everything that is needed for the customer to have a compelling reason to buy.”  This term was originally coined and used by Regis McKenna, famed marketeer of Silicon Valley  and elaborated upon by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.

In this series of posts, we explore elements of the business model that are worthy of evaluation in order to uncover innovative ways to continuously grow your business. This is the third article focused on the value proposition.  In the last article of this series, I shared a story from my own experiences and will continue that story to its conclusion here.

To recap briefly, once upon a time I was responsible for leading a team that designed, implemented and operated a global network spanning 55 countries.  For more on exactly what we were trying to achieve and the context of our desire to rapidly transform our networking capabilities to support the business, check out the last article. That article also shares a story of a sales team confusing features with value and botching things up pretty much.  This is the happy ending, I suppose, as it is a story about how another firm actually stepped up to the plate with a value proposition and related offer that got to the heart of what we needed. Read More