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  • marcvincentwest

Empowering Collaboration: The Art of Partnering in the Ecosystem.


In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the importance of strategic partnerships, particularly across the ecosystem such as a client and services provider relationship, cannot be overstated. Such partnerships go beyond mere transactions; they are built on a foundation of collaboration, shared values, and effective communication. Organizational development plays a crucial role in facilitating this process, ensuring that partnerships based on intellectual services across the ecosystem are established and nurtured for mutual success.

As an Organizational Development Leader with over 28 years of experience, I've overseen more than 65 Partnering Programs involving Global organizations and Service Providers. My role has been pivotal in facilitating parties in establishing robust relationships and designing effective alliances to manage partnerships successfully.

Navigating potential challenges like cultural or communication gaps, working practices, norms differences, or how parties manage conversations in delivery discrepancies or timeline issues, is a critical aspect of fostering healthy relationships and partnerships across all levels of both organizations. This involves defining the partnership based on creating shared values, implementing RACI frameworks, and monitoring and tracking the partnership's health for long-term sustainability and resilience.

The perceived geographical or legal separation between two partnering organizations doesn't negate the potential impact of cross-organizational communications and differences this can have on a business relationship and the impact this can have in sustainability working together.

I've encountered this situation numerous times, where a business relationship, initially seen as promising, goes through cycles resembling a marriage and divorce before finding the right counselor to establish a healthy approach to partnering.

Why is Partnering Key in Service Provision Relationships?

Partnering is key to services engagement for several reasons, particularly because it involves predominantly human interaction, intellectual sharing of knowledge, collaboration, and ideation of solutions and outcomes, in contrast managing service provide like a vendor or supplier is only to reduce the effectiveness of the relationship and sustainability.

What are the key reasons organization partner with Service Providers?

  1. Expertise and Specialization: Service providers often specialize in specific technologies or industries. Partnering with them allows businesses to tap into their expertise, gaining access to specialized skills that may not be available in-house.

  2. Scalability: SPs can scale services up or down based on the business's needs. Partnering with an MSP enables companies to adjust their IT resources quickly and efficiently, especially during periods of growth or change.

  3. Cost Efficiency: Partnering with an SP can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house IT department. SPs can offer flexible pricing models, allowing businesses to pay for only the services they need without the overhead costs of hiring and training full-time staff.

  4. Risk Mitigation: SPs often have robust security measures and disaster recovery plans in place. Partnering with them can help businesses mitigate risks related to data breaches, system failures, and other IT challenges.

  5. Focus on Core Business: By outsourcing IT management to an SP, businesses can focus on their core operations and strategic initiatives. Partnering allows companies to offload routine IT tasks, freeing up time and resources for more critical business activities.

  6. Access to Latest Technologies: SPs stay updated with the latest technological advancements. Partnering with them gives businesses access to cutting-edge technologies without having to invest heavily in research and development.

  7. Compliance and Regulations: SPs often have expertise in regulatory compliance, such as GDPR, HIPAA, ISO or industry-specific standards. Partnering with an MSP can help businesses ensure they meet regulatory requirements and avoid costly penalties.

Upon examining these key points, it becomes evident that the foundation of the relationship and services lies in an intellectual knowledge service partnership, that requires high level of human interaction and partnership vs supplier or vendor relationship.

What are your recommendations?

My key recommendations are to facilitate and counsel resilient partnerships, focusing on:

Creating Shared Values and Aligning Objectives

Shared values form the foundation of a strong partnership. Establishing common goals, values, and priorities helps align efforts and foster a collaborative environment. This involves engaging stakeholders, defining shared objectives, and reinforcing these values throughout the partnership lifecycle.

Communication Gaps and Collaboration Challenges

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership. When communication breaks down or gaps exist, it can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and decreased productivity. Addressing these challenges requires clear channels of communication, regular updates, and proactive problem-solving mechanisms and a cadence on how to manage key business issues such as the following:

Implementing RACI Frameworks for Clarity

The RACI framework (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) is a valuable tool for clarifying roles and responsibilities within a partnership. Assigning clear roles ensures accountability, reduces ambiguity, and promotes effective decision-making and execution across the two parties ensures that ownership and accountability set healthy boundaries for partnering.

Monitoring Partnership Health for Long-term Success

Regularly monitoring the health of the partnership involves assessing performance, gathering feedback, and identifying areas for improvement. This ongoing evaluation helps address issues proactively, maintain alignment with strategic objectives, and drive continuous improvement as a partnership exercise vs a finger pointing exercise.

Risk of Reactive Behavior and Misunderstandings

Failure to establish a strong partnership foundation can lead to reactive behavior, misunderstandings, and conflicts. Lack of clarity regarding responsibilities and ownership boundaries can further exacerbate these challenges, undermining trust and collaboration within the partnership.

By proactively addressing communication gaps, timeline issues, and delivery discrepancies, while also focusing on creating shared values, implementing RACI frameworks, and monitoring partnership health, organizations can build strong and sustainable partnerships that drive mutual success and innovation.

The Role of Organizational Development in Partnering

Organizational development (OD) can facilitate the process of establishing partnering by conducting interventions:

  1. Values Exercise: Conducting a values exercise to identify and align core values between the business and the managed service provider (MSP). This exercise helps establish a shared understanding of ethical principles, priorities, and behaviors that guide the partnership.

  2. RACI Framework Implementation: Utilizing the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) framework to clarify roles and responsibilities within the partnership. This framework ensures that each party knows their role in decision-making, execution, and communication processes, reducing ambiguity and enhancing efficiency.

  3. Communication Enhancement: Implementing communication strategies and tools to facilitate transparent and effective communication channels. This includes regular meetings, progress updates, feedback sessions, and conflict resolution mechanisms to address issues promptly and maintain alignment.

  4. Collaborative Ideation Platforms: Creating collaborative ideation platforms or workshops where teams from both organizations can brainstorm, innovate, and co-create solutions. This fosters creativity, mutual understanding, and joint problem-solving capabilities, leading to innovative outcomes.

Benefits of the Human-Centric Approach

The human-centric approach to partnering with managed service providers offers several benefits:

  1. Enhanced Innovation: By fostering collaboration and joint ideation, businesses can leverage the collective expertise of both internal teams and SPs to generate innovative solutions tailored to their specific needs. This leads to creative problem-solving and the development of new ideas and approaches.

  2. Improved Decision-Making: Effective communication and knowledge sharing facilitate better-informed decision-making processes. Businesses can leverage the insights and expertise of MSPs to make strategic decisions that align with their goals and objectives.

  3. Increased Efficiency: Clear lines of communication and collaboration streamline processes and workflows, leading to increased efficiency. Tasks can be executed more effectively, and issues can be addressed promptly, reducing downtime and optimizing resource utilization.

  4. Stronger Relationships: Building strong relationships based on trust, open communication, and collaboration creates a foundation for long-term partnerships. Strong relationships foster mutual understanding, alignment of objectives, and a shared commitment to success.

  5. Agility and Adaptability: The human-centric approach enables businesses to be more agile and adaptable to changing circumstances. Collaboration and joint ideation facilitate quick adjustments and strategic pivots, allowing organizations to respond effectively to market trends and business challenges.

  6. Enhanced Problem-Solving: Collaboration and knowledge sharing enhance problem-solving capabilities. By leveraging diverse perspectives and expertise, businesses can tackle complex issues more effectively and identify innovative solutions.

  7. Continuous Improvement: The focus on continuous improvement ensures that partnerships with MSPs evolve and optimize over time. Regular feedback, performance evaluations, and process enhancements contribute to ongoing innovation and value delivery.


In conclusion, partnering in managed services situations goes beyond the traditional client-vendor relationship. It is about building strong, collaborative partnerships based on shared values, effective communication, and collaborative ideation.

Organizational development plays a vital role in facilitating this process, ensuring that partnerships are founded on clear expectations, mutual respect, and a shared vision of success. By implementing strategies such as values exercises, RACI framework utilization, communication enhancement, and collaborative ideation platforms, organizations can foster successful partnerships that drive innovation, efficiency, and long-term growth.

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