Now more than at any other time in our history, solid partnerships hold the key to success for all companies. If the past two and a half years of challenges and issues have taught us anything, it is that by increasing the number of stronger partnerships we have, the more we can accomplish and the more secure our companies will be able to handle the future.
We should all be looking for strong and cooperative partnerships where we all help one another to do things that neither of us could do alone.
As a partner or potential partner, you must ask yourself:
- Do I try to find ways to work with others?
- When did you last think about someone who could make you better? Your company better?
- Do you look for partners in terms of what they can do for you, or what you can do for them?
- Trying to create good and productive partnerships means looking at things from your partner’s point of view. Can you do that? Have you tried to do that?
- Are you ready to share the credit with someone else? Remembering what Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing how much can get accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
- What do I need partners for? What are my greatest needs? What could I accomplish with the right partners?
- Who could I partner with today? What could I do for them? What could they do for me? What more could we do together in partnership?
- Partners are not just people from other companies like suppliers and customers. What about people in our own company—do we consider them partners? Shouldn’t we?
- What can I add to a partnership that will make my partners succeed? What will make them shine so that they further value our partnership?
- When might I put my partner’s agenda over mine? Think about that. That is a lot to ask of anyone. But in the end, it is one of the key ingredients of a great partnership.
- Do I work the partnership on a regular basis, always looking for ways to enhance my contributions to the partnership, knowing that the stronger I can make the partnership the more I will benefit as well as my partner?
- Is my partner better off for having this partnership? Does he benefit from it as much as I do, or maybe even more?
- Am I willing to trust my partner to the point of sharing vital and sometimes confidential information with them? Do I always make sure that my partner feels that they can trust me with vital and confidential information about their company?
- Better yet, do I go out of my way to find information that would benefit my partner even if it doesn’t really benefit me?
- Do I understand my partner’s needs enough to go out of my way, go that extra mile to provide them with not only what they need today, but even what they will need tomorrow and after that as well?
- Do I try to exceed my partner’s expectations in everything that I do?
- Do I try to tailor my needs and services to meet and exceed my partner’s particular needs?
- Do I always respect the relationship and look for ways to make it stronger and better and, best of all, always growing?
- Do you always respect your partners? Do you unselfishly share with them?
- Do you try to create productive partnerships among your own partners, introducing them to one another and encouraging them to become partners as well?
- Are you willing to be a good partner even when it hurts? Even when you come to realize that the best solution that your partner needs right now is not the one you can provide? Do you have the good will and the courage to let them know and show them where to get that solution? This is perhaps that hardest test of all when it comes to a great partnership.
If we are going to survive, we must find ways to work together. For the past few decades, many of us in our industry have tried to go it alone; frankly, it has not worked out very well. In our particular industry, there used to be about 1,500 individual PCB fabricators (give or take a couple of hundred depending on who you talk to). Now there are fewer than 200. North America used to control nearly 70% of the world’s PCB market; now we control less than 4%. Do I dare ask how that individual silo thing has worked out for us as a domestic industry? The answer is obvious—not very well.
Please consider working together with your vendors, customers and especially competitors to create strong and growing partnerships that will make all of us stronger in the end.