Modern Partnerships

I know that I’ve stretched my self imposed brief in the past but if you’re concerned that I’m venturing into territory best left to marriage guidance experts then I have two words for you. Don’t worry. That’s an erogenous zone I wouldn’t dream of infiltrating. No, this is simply my musings on the changing nature of partnerships in a modern business world, as well as in the wider political world, and what it might mean for us all in terms of coping with the future.Much is written about how quickly the business world is changing. It’s a fact of life that more and more executives are unable to cope with the ferocious pace and nature of this change. Wash outs are on the up and Execs who still feel the need to keep on top of all things – the plate spinners – are struggling most of all. It seems to me that the Execs emerging best from this disruption are either superhuman, natural delegators or outright bullshitters. And sadly it is the final category that seem to be prevailing best of all.

The “partnership” model is now peddled as one way forward for big business to beat this mess. And this is not the traditional “PWC” or “John Lewis and partners” type model, where like minded individuals and groups politely join together in dusty boardrooms and form objective aligned alliances under the same monotone corporate umbrella. This is more like a veritable potpourri of multiple umbrellas, of all different shapes colours and sizes, and even purposes – usually with the phrase “tech, start up” somewhere engraved on the stem – all pointing in different directions, flamboyantly functioning in innovative ways and all allegedly helping the plate spinning Exec perform better and get stuff done. His or her own team of functional experts and operators no longer have the capability for the modern world, we are led to believe, and even if they do then the increasing pace of transformational change means that they will not cope in the future. Fluid and fun modern partnerships need to be developed between the lumbering, struggling, monolithic corporate giants and the new breed of innovative tech start ups with their big ideas, even bigger claims, PE fund backing and goatee beards.

Which brings me to Kim Kardashian. It seems to me that business is not the only place where odd bedfellows are starting to “get it on” and collaborate for the greater good. World politics today makes the seismic shifts in the business world look more boring than ever, but this comparison was stretched even further with the recent Trump / KK (not KKK – yet!) hook up on domestic USA policy. Irrespective of the subject matter, it is yet another bizarre and alarming twist in a messed up political world, with a population increasingly struggling to work out any differences between reality and reality TV.

From full blown political partnerships to the emerging and changing role of political middlemen. It seems there will always be a market for middlemen – even if logic says they should be most challenged by a new data driven transparent modus doperandi. Facilitating is a most puzzling – yet one of the strongest – growth areas in the business world too. In my most recent Executive role across a 5 year period, our bi-annual leadership team off site facilitation morphed from doing it ourselves, to having a scared internal HR person “help” us, through to hiring various increasingly exuberant and flamboyant (and increasingly expensive) external facilitation “agents”, who seemed to push the boundaries of their role as far as they could to drum up cudos and praise, and most importantly follow up work. I was not alone in finding that doing it ourselves actually led to the most productive sessions. However, despite all logical counter arguments it seems clear that modern facilitation is here to stay.

Which brings me to Dennis Rodman. Now here’s a turn of events and a facilitating intervention that makes Curvy Kim’s elevation to political guru look as normal as the gun lobby. The scene was hardly set for a breakthrough in North Korea’s relationship with the free world. Yet, who was the behind the scenes intellectual powerhouse that successfully brought together two heavyweight political and ideological foes and made them best buddies? As we now scarily know it was none other than Big Den. Words fail me.

These two real – yes, I repeat, real – examples of the new global political order got me thinking. In truth the last of the really big global issues to be fully solved was Hitler. Since then we have stumbled and pontificated or found more minor things to solve and shout about. The time is right for a breakthrough. Perhaps there is something in this – a different perilous yet populous pathway to a better future. Here are some suggestions on how we could solve some of societies biggest current challenges, using our new found partnership model, to facilitate a better world.

1. Syria and the Middle East. Kicking it off with an easy one. The groundwork has been done by the current moves to set up a Trump / Putin summit to “solve” Syria. And after lunch I’m sure Israel, Iran and the rest of the Middle East will follow. The missing link to making this a success though is first class facilitation. The answer is obvious. The TRUTIN summit, or perhaps even better the PUMP summit, should be facilitated by Ant and Dec. Naughty Ant would clearly be introducing a new side of vile Vlad after spending a good chunk of time with him in the bar. Cheeky Dec on the other hand would be teamed up with the great DJT, perhaps sharing tips in the make up room on how to get that face to really glow Chernobyl orange. The event could be sponsored by Fanta and Smirnoff. And all followed live on Twitter of course.

2. Brexit. Witness live as the final terms of the Brexit policy and the scale of the “divorce” bill are decreed by a dance off between Mss Merkel and May. A non partisan global audience of non Europeans should be intrigued enough to watch and entrusted enough to determine the final result. Let’s face it, they’ve probably got more chance of getting it right than the bunch of idiots being paid to do it.

3. World Hunger. Take Aussie Masterchef out on the global road and get them to feed real people that are actually hungry rather than those same 3 annoying bloody chefs that scoff all the food every week – especially that fat one with the cravat. Hosted by Elle McPherson and Benedict Cumberbatch to make sure the food gets to those that want it and the hosts don’t get tempted to get in the way.

4. Evolution & Climate Change. Tough one this given the long term penchant for celebs already being involved but achieving little other than the odd concert. Perhaps gamification may be the answer? Gen Z only would be allowed to play and perhaps they could see what truly happens to the world when species are hunted to extinction. Perhaps we could start with lawyers? Or bankers? Via VR (virtual reality to the uninitiated) to start with, but quickly morphing to AR (augmented reality) and finally yet quickly to RR (reality reality).

5. Racial Inequality and inbred Class Division. How about a dubious second rate, mixed ethnicity, working class, American, soap star marrying into the royal family…ah, too late for that one.

With the big issues of the world put to rights we can get back to sorting out the woes of the business world. In truth a new approach to business partnerships is not entirely a bad thing, if, like the political arena, it actually succeeds in getting things done. It certainly provides new ways of thinking and operating and it challenges the staid status quo driven approaches of the past, of which there are still far too many. Diversity and variety are good things, whereas monotony and stagnation are not. The problem is will it actually work? Despite my natural cynicism I believe that it can – but only if business leaders do what’s best for their teams, and simply do the intros and then get out the way. Let the new partnerships with the new breed develop with the people in big corporations who know how the organisations operate and actually do the work. Otherwise the layer of – mostly bullshitting – supremos at the top end of the corporate chain will simply bluster their way over the latest trend, sounding good in the press, pleasing their Boards, yet achieving nothing along the way other than alienating their teams to feel even more lost than they do now.


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