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The Shaping Of Partnerships: What Is Required For Success?

Before we get into any of the complex details related to this subject matter, it may be smart to postulate that a mutual interest in a specific subject matter is paramount for continued commitment and long-term success. Without mutual interest in a specific subject matter, it would be quite hard to get on the same page and forge a solid partnership.

                In addition to mutual interest, there is always the somewhat tense issue of finances (i.e. – does one of the potential partners enter the partnership with cash bursting out of their pockets while the other has to get a small hammer and crack open the piggy bank to scrounge some shillings?) Gross differences in monetary position does have the potential to throw a wrench in the works and rise the wafting stench of suspicion in the air. Greed and power differentials can make people a bit loopy.

                Let’s not ruminate too much over the greenback though, what about the personal relationship? How much does each partner in the partnership actually like the other? Is the clanking of glasses an occasional celebratory dynamic in the relationship? Or, is it a ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ business mentality? While work-life balance is a fascinating topic of discussion, it is not necessarily the most imperative in the development of a meaningful interpersonal relationship.

                The other break-off piece of the interpersonal dynamic is the frequency of belligerent behavioral speech. Blue-collared entrepreneurial folk like to refer to this interactive phenomenon as ‘cannon-shots’. If you want a picture of what this interpersonal dynamic looks like; envision a thundering rhinoceros bucking and blasting everything in its paths into an oblivion with massive and uncontrollable head and horn thrusts. Needless to say, cannon-shots don’t sit well with others and tend to dissolve partnerships speedily.

                And, of exceptional importance in business partnering, is the complex issue of trust, transparency, and personal disclosure (which needs to not be confused with absolute personal disclosure). The expectation of absolute personal disclosure, in any relationship, is not only tyrannical, but a political doctrine of totalitarianism. If a partner in a relationship thinks that something very important has been left unsaid (thereby raising caution), an in-person, face-to-face meeting needs to be scheduled to resolve any feelings of uneasiness or distrust. During such an in-person meeting, all and any personal or professional agendas must be revealed by both sides.

                If such a scheduled meeting needs to happen and one of the potential partners has acted in a very indirect and shrewd way, that same potential partner is responsible for initiating a direct contact via telephone or email to get things underway with the other potential partner. If this is not to be the way, the other potential partner needs to maintain personal integrity/credibility and cannot make any further direct communication attempts. This approach has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with the reality of how a partnership develops.

                There are many more variables that are responsible for the shaping of a partnership, particularly one that is successful. Are you willing to share any other variables you can think of with me?

I’ve been workin’ on the railroad, all the live long day,

Matthew Polkinghorne

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