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Have faith – collaborate!13.4.2012 12.44 | Jukka Muhonen
As we’ve looked at our partnering approach at Orion, I’ve wanted to understand also what makes the difference between the best partnerships and those that are still on the development curve. It all seems to boil down to one thing that is above the rest: trust.
Admittedly, partnership success may be hard to separate from the success of the product or project. Conversely, however, partnerships are tested when they come across ‘rough weather’. But high performing partnerships (just as happy marriages and high performing sports teams) all seem to share one thing. Skill is certainly the entry ticket to the league, but unquestioned and unwavering trust in the partner (their skill, their willingness to go the distance and their trust in you and your ability to excel) is the real deal and relieves a lot of mental capacity. Who would not have felt the ‘lightness of being’ when you know you can trust someone to deliver something on time.
As trust seems to be vital for team and partnership performance, is there anything that can be done to increase the level of trust, or to maximize it? Transparency, opening up, doing the pre-emptive on being trustworthy, for one. I used to get some laughs from my wife (now it’s gotten a little old) when I said ‘Trust me, I’m a lawyer’. I never got away with just that, but striving to be trustworthy has been my avenue.
Which one of the partners should open up first, get exposed, take the risk? My gut tells me that it is the partner candidate who’s more motivated who needs to do the persuasion and take the initial step into the cold water. The one who’s more convinced of the partnership’s bright future. Because, this being the case, it feels less risky for them. With the more assured partner opening up the game, offering transparency, the other may well get onboard. Call it an invitation to collaborate, open and frank and unselfish. When in business, this sort of courtship needs to follow certain rules, of course. Those playing with their own money may have more leeway to go with their gut but with us other mortals, we need to do certain homework, and first take care of things related to confidentiality, patenting and so on.
But when the foundation is laid and risks are under control, there seems to be little reason to hold back if you want to build a joint future. What better way to open up a partnership than by saying ‘what you see is what you get’. Powerful stuff, and immediately trust building. Of course the statement needs to be accurate and there can be no skeletons in the closet (or if there are, those skeletons need to be outed simultaneously).
Quality of communication as a running mate for transparency also builds trust but I’ll ramble on about that some other time. Right now I’ll continue being busy in being trustworthy…