Business Makes Strange Bedfellows — Unlikely Coalitions: Reach Beyond Company Boundaries for Strategic Pairings…

Strange bedfellows; it’s often said that ‘politics makes for strange bedfellows’, but the same could be said for business It’s a strange dynamic, but mutual needs are driving business strategy in the age of– social media, cloud, mobile… and forcing companies to rethink traditional ways of doing business… And that is creating– strange bedfellows among organizations that normally would have seemed highly unlikely, if not impossible, just a few years ago…

According to Raj Kosaraju; companies must look at business with fresh eyes, in part by scanning neighboring fields– and in part by pushing their gaze to even more distant places, e.g.; airlines improved turnaround times for jet service by dissecting the work of Indianapolis 500 pit crews… Oil transmission companies discovered better ways to seal cracked pipelines when they observed the self-healing properties of capillaries… whitening toothpaste was invented by studying how laundry detergent cleans clothes…

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According to Chris Rufer; the job of an entrepreneur or innovator is to take ideas from other places and apply them to their own endeavor… Most innovators– use a cut-and-paste mentality– they take pieces of the puzzle where ever they can find them, then rearrange the pieces together in a different way…

According to Peter Drucker; innovation tends to originate outside ones own area… technology increasingly spill-overs from one area to another… however, it’s one thing to recognize that cross-pollination can be effective and still another to make it happen… Also, people in different domains don’t speak the same language and throwing them together in a room can result in more noise than insight…

However, done right, cross-pollination can help people get past default assumptions and open their minds to new ideas and different ways for doing things… According to Christian Madsbjerg; even today with all of the sophisticated efforts in marketing, creative design… companies have a habit of designing products for ‘themselves’, which violates one of Peter Drucker cardinal rules; quality in products or services is not what supplier puts in, but it’s what customers gets out and are willing to pay for…

In the article Business Makes for Strange Bedfellows by Mindy S. Lubber writes: Unlikely coalitions, e.g.; Greenpeace and McDonald’s, are becoming the norm as special-interest groups become part of the business conversation on such key issues as; climate change, water scarcity… Who would have ever thought that Greenpeace and McDonald’s would be collaborating to protect the Amazon rain forest? Or influential environmental groups would be partnering with private equity firms to prevent new coal-fired power plants from coming online? Or that investors and activists would be sitting across the table from ‘Citi’ and other leading banks telling them how to tighten their lending criteria for high carbon-emitting projects?

To quote Bob Dylan; ‘times, they are a-changin’… These coalitions, once unthinkable, are now indispensable as companies navigate the complex environmental and social risks of the 21st century global economy. Companies that heed these new age business perspectives and filter them strategically can propel themselves forward by avoiding unforeseen risks, seizing new opportunities…

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In the article Fashion and Technology–Wearables Making Strange Bedfellows by Marley Kaplan writes: Fashion and technology companies are creating unfamiliar collaborations in the race to make smart clothes and wearable accessories… ‘Seamless’ is not a word often used to describe the relationship between the worlds of fashion and technology. Out of necessity, a new fusion is rapidly forming between the two, as the hype around wearable technologies reaches a fever pitch… The rise of– smart-watches, eyewear… that access the Internet, plus tech-infused garments and accessories is shifting a once-fledgling business opportunity into space race like bonanza…

According Ashley Kindergan; the ability that brands have to develop effective coalitions for bridging function and fashion will determine the ultimate potential of a large– yet abstract– market… reaching upwards of $30-50 billion over the next 3 to 5 years… At the center of many of these reference designs is technology… tiny, energy-sipping wireless devices… According to Deepa Sood; wearables are about fashion and function, and between the two industries of tech and fashion everyone sees the opportunities…

In the article Not-So-Strange Bedfellows by Samuel Greengard writes: More companies are teaming up with other entities, including competitors, to further strategic goals… corporate coalitions have gone mainstream– filtering through virtually every industry and every type of company. In an era of intense global competition, it might seem a bit ironic that companies are cooperating and collaborating like never before. But increasingly, corporate management is beginning to realize that it’s impossible to go it alone…

Today, the question is: How do you– build, buy, borrow… the capabilities you need to advance your strategic intent? More and more companies are doing that through coalitions… The reason for the stampede is simple; firms that use strategic coalitions effectively can realize enormous gains, whether it’s in– marketing, research, sales, supply chain logistics…

According to John R. Harbison; a well-designed coalition can realize a 50% higher return on investment (ROI) than a firm’s base business… It’s an opportunity to pursue business objectives with only an incremental investment… However, determining which coalition to embrace and which to avoid is extremely important and it can be very difficult. Hence, much due diligence and detailed financial analysis are required up front… as well as, continuously monitoring the process to determine whether the coalition is meeting its objectives, goals… or, not…

A coalition requires pooling of money, resources, personnel… across company boundaries. It means crossing a once-forbidden threshold and facing a world where both partners share in gains, losses… however, it’s increasely clear that coalitions of various types are key to business success…

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According to Karen A. Frenkel; technology makes strange bedfellows, e.g.; coalitions sharing technology between long time rivals, or seemingly incompatible industries often embrace technology to create mutually beneficial business solutions… Established companies are forming coalitions in unexpected market sectors or even joining forces with past competitors…

According to Jane Hiscock; company coalitions are connecting market leaders from across industries; where they listen to their business concerns and requirements, where they share new ideas, perspectives, challenges… where they are engaging customers and helping companies uncover unlikely B2B partners in adjacent or seemingly unrelated spaces… These unlikely coalitions drive new business models, innovation… e.g.; IBM and Twitter, Apple and Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, Tesla and Airbnb, CloudFlare and Baidu…

In a rapidly changing business environment, the priority for business, of all sizes, is to be more innovative, creativity… but the million dollar question: How do they actually do that? According to Albert Einstein; you can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking you used when you created them… So where do you find that different kind of thinking? The kind of productive thinking that promotes different perspectives and creates new ideas?

The answer can be found all around you and is readily available; one example is in the ‘arts’… This is not a bizarre idea by any means, there is already a firmly established and well-traveled bridge between– ‘business’ and the ‘arts’… Firms have hired poets to learn better communication skills for their ideas, engaged theater artists to strengthen presentation and improvisational abilities, and studied the inner workings of musical ensembles to improve their teamwork and performance…

Professors at major business schools have partnered with theater directors, magicians, filmmakers… to demonstrate management skills. Behind all this activity is the growing realization that companies need to foster more creative thinking, develop new leadership models, strengthen employee collaborative skills… so as to remain relevant, profitable… in a highly competitive business  environment that is driven by hyper-change,radical unpredictability.

According to Harvey Seifter; surveys consistently identify the most sought-after business skills and abilities, e.g.; imagination, inspiration, inventiveness, improvisation, collaborative, spontaneity, adaptability… but many of these skills are not inherent in business, or taught in  most companies or business schools… but they are natural in many other disciplines…

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Hence through various types of coalitions, companies can acquire the necessary skills and tools that are needed for them to tap into the creativity of their workers and unleash the  innovative potential of their organizations… As a result, a growing number of companies are engaging artists as part of their organizational learning and professional development.

The creative form of the ‘arts’ forces companies to explore beyond defined boundaries… It challenges and reinforces, as daily reminders, the value of creativity… and of keeping an open-mind through the daily dialogue of work… and to see the world differently on any given day…

According to Emily Lutzker; when you want real disruption start talking to artists, where disruption is central to their thinking and their value system… whereas, when you are satisfied with incremental innovation, then any traditional focus group can show how to inch forward…

Hence to stay relevant and competitive in this highly competitive global environment… and add more innovation and creativity to your business… try unlikely coalitions, experiment with the unexpected… enter fascinating realm of cross-industry ideas and experience, of exploration and building, of new best practices and business models, of continuous learning of lessons and skills… beyond your normal company boundaries…