Tag #Leadership

5 Things that Make A Great Business Partnership


The 4th Could Have Your Enterprise Singing Like The Righteous Brothers

Many business leaders make the mistake of considering partnerships transactional rather than relational.

While transactions are always part of the business equation, a great partnership is more than the sum of everybody’s bottom line. Great leaders consider integrity, competency, communication – the entire sum of the relationship.

In fact, it takes five elements to make a great partnership. No. 4 is the one that can have your enterprise singing like The Righteous Brothers!

  1. Look for partners who are competent.
  2. Look for partners who have integrity.
  3. Look for partners who can communicate clearly.
  4. Look for partners who can understand their roles.
  5. Look for partners who want to benefit everyone involved.

Look for Partners Who Are Competent

This should go without saying. After all, if your partners cannot fulfill their promise, you, your company and your customers will end up disappointed.

Executives should ensure that all partners have a unique value proposition. All partners should have a high level of competency in that area.

Evaluate their past performance. Examine their track record of meeting commitments and delivering results. Request references.

Even better, interview previous clients or partners to discover insights you’re your potential partner’s reliability and professionalism.

Look for Partners Who Have Integrity

Tompkins Leadership and our sister company, Tompkins Ventures, will only work with partners and clients that have integrity. I mean really high. We don’t want to just follow the laws, regulations and norms of good behavior. We want to rise above.

Observe your potential partner’s behavior over time. Note if they act with honesty, transparency and consistency. Conduct background checks. And again, interviewing previous associates can verify a potential partner’s reputation and ethical standards.

I thought I was in the consulting business for decades. It only took me a few decades to find out how wrong I was. I was in the integrity business, not the consulting business.

My reputation was not because I invented this, foresaw that or wrote dozens of books. My reputation in supply chain and leadership grew because people trusted me.

They knew if I said something, I would bend over backwards or do head flips to make sure my organization got it done.

We say what we do, and then we do what we say.

That consistency over decades allowed us to be successful over time.

The last thing I want to do is work with someone who doesn’t have high integrity. Neither should you.

Look for partners who can communicate clearly

Sometimes people can do the job. They have high integrity. They are very competent.

Unfortunately, many cannot even begin to explain what they do in plain language.

If you cannot explain what you do, how do you expect anybody else to understand what you do?

All business partners must be able to explain their value proposition to people who are not specialists. Whether you are offering supply chain solutions, leadership development or technology expertise, you are going to have to talk to many who do not understand your field.

Look for Partners Who Can Understand Their Roles

Go listen to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” or “Unchained Melody.

The original Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, had contrasting vocal ranges.

Musical experts note that Medley’s bass-baritone voice took the low parts. Hatfield’s tenor, which reached as high as countertenor, handled notes in higher registers. (Yes, I had to research that. I know a lot about leadership and supply chain. With music, I just know how to listen and enjoy.)

The duo each knew exactly their role and how their voice needed to complement each other. That’s what makes their songs so beautiful.

Your partners need to understand and know their roles. You can conduct role-specific discussions or scenarios to evaluate their understanding and readiness.

You want your partner network to synchronize like The Righteous Brothers, not clang like punk rock. (Apologies to all the punk rock fans out there.)

Look for partners who want to benefit everyone involved

Partnerships should be more than the sum of their parts. They should benefit everybody.

So many in business look at Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as a business book.

Business relationships should not mean war. I want everybody involved to win, not to die.

Look for business relationships where everyone can benefit, where everybody either makes money or gets valued services or solutions for the money they spend.

If partners lose and lose, eventually you’ll find your business has nobody to work with.

Want more coaching on how to build great partnerships and networks? I would love to discuss your business goals.

The Anti-globalization Crowd Is Not Entirely Wrong


Redesigned Global Networks Must Pay Attention to Previously Ignored Regions, Countries

More than 75% of respondents to my recent globalization survey thought that the world – and the U.S. economy – benefited as economies, cultures and populations grew more interdependent over the decades.

But as we know, globalization’s image has suffered over the last few years. That probably has something to do with why 23% thought globalization was somewhat unbeneficial or not beneficial.

That 23% probably are thinking about areas that have not benefited from decades of globalization. But truthfully, those areas have suffered because countries have pursued policies that undercut the benefits of globalization – tariffs, quotas, taxes, subsidies. Such barriers distort comparative advantage, incentivize inefficient resource allocation and leave entire regions and countries behind.

While executive leadership cannot do much about the global context of politics, wars, they can respond to the ongoing VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity). The best way for us to level the playing field is to redesign our global network, examine the entire world as our supply depot and try to make sure that other regions benefit from comparative advantage.

Globalization/Deglobalization – Survey Says …

But first, let’s take a closer look at the survey results. I asked, “Is globalization a net benefit to global living standards and the U.S. economy?”

  • 52% of respondents said “extremely beneficial.”
  • 25% of respondents said “somewhat beneficial.”
  • 6% of respondents said “somewhat unbeneficial.”
  • 17% of respondents said “not beneficial.”

The Benefits of Globalization

The benefits of globalization have been profound.

Globalization has increased economic growth, opened up new markets and promoted trade. Companies operating in global markets create jobs and economic diversification. Globalization promoted cultural exchange, which fosters tolerance and understanding. It also promoted technological advancement, innovation and improved living standards as comparative advantage (more on that in a bit) made goods more affordable.

In fact, according to The World Bank, the global poverty rate plunged from 36% to 9% between 1990 and 2017, lifting 1 billion people out of poverty. The World Bank uses national poverty lines to measure poverty worldwide. A United Nations report puts the number of people lifted out of extreme poverty at 2 billion. (The U.N. defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $2.15 a day at 2017 purchasing power.)

A lot of that benefit comes from comparative advantage.

Comparative Advantage

I recently analyzed the path global supply chain leaders must follow to respond to today’s world of constant VUCA.

Comparative advantage plays a key role. Comparative advantage or specialization goes back to the beginning of civilization. Each family did not try to do it all – instead, people who specialized in farming farmed, hunters hunted, blacksmiths blacksmithed, etc.

Trading the surplus allowed people to increase their standard of living. As the world evolved, such trade went beyond the village, beyond the community, beyond the region and beyond the nation.

When comparative advantage is allowed to play out, the world is flat (apologies to Thomas Friedman, author of the book The World is Flat). Unfortunately, politics and VUCA keep getting in the way.

That 23%? They Have A Point

Despite the unmitigated benefits of globalization, those negative views are not wrong.

They simply have a different perspective. They see how China has accrued many of the benefits of globalization. They see how leadership in the West is responding to decades of Chinese anti-competitive practices with our own subsidies, tariffs and quotas. They see areas of the world that did not benefit as much from – large swaths of Southeast Asia, India, Africa and South and Central America, even parts of the United States.

Executive leaders cannot repeal trade laws, tariffs or export controls. We cannot eliminate VUCA.

We can, however, examine our entire global network. The only way we can deal with whatever VUCA comes around the next corner – and there will be more in a world of perpetual disruption – is to continuously redesign our supply chains in an attempt to flatten the playing field.

As we flatten the playing field, we need to reflect on the 23% who view globalization in a negative light. Beyond regions of the world that have not benefited, I am sure they are thinking of the jobs that disappeared in areas like the U.S. Midwest and the South – manufacturing, textiles and more. Many have been hurt by an uneven playing field, and we need to make sure that free and fair trade mandates the winners and losers, not the political gamesmanship that has hurt so many communities.

I would love to discuss what your organization is seeing as you examine your global network with an eye toward the future.

The AI Industrial Revolution: Embrace Progress and Learn from History

Artificial Intelligence

Why a 19th Century German Philosopher is Still Right

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the words of 19th-century philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ring truer than ever: “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” We find ourselves in the midst of another industrial revolution, driven by artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, machine learning, robotics and more.

Leaders are figuring out how to use these transformative technologies to reshape the way we live, work and play.

Change and Fear

Often in this space, I have stressed that the future will be a departure from the past, not a continuation. That is true.

But sometimes history repeats itself. And that’s happening here. But for business leaders and entrepreneurs, this repeat will be a good thing.

Historically, rapid technological progress has often elicited fear and resistance. People worry that their skills will become obsolete, wages will decline and jobs will vanish. These concerns have surfaced time and time again. Artificial intelligence, particularly generative AI models like ChatGPT, Google Bard and the like, are triggering those same warnings of doom again.

Yet history has consistently demonstrated that these fears are largely unfounded.

Even this time, doomsayers have been light on detailing exactly how artificial intelligence will destroy us., as this New York Times articles points out.

Let’s take the previous Industrial Revolutions one at a time:

The First Industrial Revolution

The First Industrial Revolution, spanning from 1760 to 1840, introduced innovations like the steam engine and textile machines. While these changes raised concerns about job displacement, they ultimately created new employment opportunities and increased productivity.

The Second Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution, roughly from 1850 to 1914, saw the mass production of steel and the spread of electricity. Once again, there was resistance to these advancements, but they led to economic growth and the emergence of new industries.

The Third Industrial Revolution

Computers, the internet and mobile phones marked the Third Industrial Revolution. Despite initial resistance, these innovations gave rise to entirely new job categories and significantly improved the quality of life for billions worldwide.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and AI

Today, as we stand at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fears about artificial intelligence persist. However, if history serves as a guide, these concerns are likely to be proven wrong once more. This revolution will create new opportunities and industries, just as previous ones have.

Recognize the Pattern of Doomsayers and Luddites

Throughout history, the fear of technological advancements replacing workers has recurred.

Yet, these technologies have consistently created more jobs, increased productivity and enhanced the overall standard of living. Acknowledging this pattern is essential when addressing present-day anxieties.

The Luddite movement during the First Industrial Revolution serves as a notable example of resistance to change. They went around destroying looms, fearing that the new technology would destroy their chances at future employment.

While their concerns were valid, technological progress continued, and society adapted.

In contemporary times, a new generation of skeptics has emerged in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While some advocate for caution, we must recognize the immense promise that AI and automation hold in addressing society’s challenges. These neo-Luddites will be proven wrong – again.

Embrace Change

While concerns about AI safety and ethics are valid, we should not allow fear to hinder progress. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will usher in new job opportunities, enhance productivity and stimulate economic growth.

As we embark on this new era, heed Hegel’s words and learn from history. The weaving loom, electricity and mobile phones ultimately improved our lives and expanded employment opportunities.

I mean, do you really want to go back to sewing all your clothes from scratch? I didn’t think so.

Generative AI promises to improve lives, businesses and the world. Let us approach it with an open mind, diligence and thoughtfulness.

If you’re interested in exploring how progress and technology can benefit leadership in your organization, I would love to talk.