This column has spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of partnerships and how they can allow us to accomplish more than we ever could on our own. Solid vendor partnerships, partnerships with our customers, and even partnerships with our competitors all offer valuable benefits to the company looking to achieve more. But most of the discussions on this topic have been preoccupied with either reflecting on history or contemplating the present. Today I thought it might be interesting to instead discuss what partnerships might look like in the future as well as strong examples from the recent past.
The characteristics that define a good partnership remain the same, of course. As we have discussed in the past, good and productive partnerships are based on eight important building blocks:
- Mutual trust
- Mutual respect
- Common goals
- Strong communications
- Relationship chemistry
Now let’s turn toward the future. Our world has drastically changed since we started this series over three years ago. The pandemic, supply chain changes, and global geopolitics have forced to us to adapt in ways we never could have anticipated. Virtual meetings, virtual plant surveys, and even virtual audits have forced us to get creative to ensure we’re communicating effectively even when we’re not able to meet in person.
This leads me to the first and probably most exciting thing we can expect from future partnerships. Where once we partnered with people in our own geographical area—our own neighborhood, state, or country—now, we can collaborate with people all over the world. The possibilities for cooperative partnerships now extend to all four corners of the world. There’s tremendous power in that reality, power that we have yet to fully explore.
Here is an example: A cutting-edge PCB fab house can now partner with a designer in, say, Poland, who is working on a cutting-edge RF board; both companies can openly share their knowledge to achieve a common goal. Let’s add a thermal laminate supplier from Spain to this partnership, and how about an assembly company from Brazil? You can now effectively and productively build a product with a team of partners from across the globe. The walls have come down, the silos have crumpled, and the projects are limitless.
This type of global sharing allows people from all over the world to work together to develop great products that can change the world for the better. People who can share their dreams and hopes are more successful when working together on projects because they understand and respect each other. This leads to closeness and a desire to look out for one another, which can only lead us to a better place.
To use an example from an earlier column, the miraculous development of the COVID-19 vaccine happened so quickly because people and their companies opened their minds, their labs, and their research to each other, thereby tearing down the silos of competition for the good of all mankind. That openness led to the creation of live-saving vaccinations in record time. Even governments cut through their bureaucratic red tape to make sure that vaccines were approved and in people’s arms as quickly as possible. In a final demonstration of cooperative partnership, municipalities worked with local health communities to quickly organize systems that helped people get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Hundreds of companies came together to make all of this happen, from the company in Iceland that developed the temperature indicator that shipped in the boxes of the first vaccines (which had to be kept extremely cold) to package carriers like FedEx and UPS, which worked together to get the vaccines delivered on time. Many more companies also put aside their differences to work in cooperative partnership to (no hyperbole here) literally save the world.
I don’t think there’s a better example of what good cooperative partnerships can do than the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, an achievement brought about by our collective commitment to work together for a common cause. The COVID-19 vaccine joins the space program—getting a man on the moon by the end of the ‘60s was no small feat—and the resolution of World War II as great examples of what countries can accomplish when they work together.
History has shown us time and time again that great things happen when we decide to join together in partnership. Think of the possibilities if companies in our industry decided to work together to build great products of the future. History has proven that it can be done; progress has always been built on partnerships.