How to Use Metrics to Plan, Develop, and Implement Successful Alliances
Measuring the Value of Partnering – Larraine Segil provided valuable, insightful, and solid ideas by presenting useful diagnostic methods, ideas, tools, and key points for successful alliance development, an essential tool in business survival” -Ron Khormaei, Ph.D., Section Manager Personal Printing, Hewlett Packard Company With the factors of accurately measuring an alliance – productivity, decision making, team performance, new customers, and damage control – obtaining a precise measurement can be a complex and overwhelming task.
Knowing the specific measurement to use at what point in the life cycle of the alliance is critical. Measuring the Value of Partnering offers a system for measuring relationship contributions throughout the alliance, from creation to implementation to termination. Featuring case studies from interviews with key players at IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks, Staples, Hyundai, and other organizations, author Larraine Segil helps readers develop appropriate metrics and shows how – and when – to use these tools accurately, intelligently, and for maximum impact. Timeless and practical, this republication of Measuring the Value of Partnering provides a multitude of tools to help any alliance perform to maximum organizational advantage.
Review by A. J. Sutter
This book is not at all what its title and blurb suggest. It purports to help you to assess strategic alliances by using “metrics”, which are defined as “that which should be measured” (at xi). Unfortunately, the author has a distinctly inadequate approach to this concept: she will tell you that you should use something as a “metric”, but she does NOT tell you (i) how to measure it, or (ii) how to weight it against other “metrics” that are qualitatively different. If you are expecting the book to provide even a single template or checklist that will enable you to accumulate a bunch of metrics and compare them — in fact, if you’re expecting anything quantitative at all — yours is a vain hope.
Moreover, the metrics she proposes are often quite vague. For example, she proposes “strategic alignment” and “strategy fit” as two separate metrics during the development of an alliance (at 43-49). The distinction between them is never made clear, although for the latter she includes a kind of flow diagram with 12 boxes filled with terminology like “Misson/Vison/Values”, “SWOT”, “Product Lines” etc., and other chestnuts from undergraduate business textbooks. Here are some other examples of metrics, verbatim (at 214): “Define expectations and success continually”, “Educate the customer about [your company’s] value,” “Negotiation – change the conversation from how much to how good”. Maybe these are good bits of advice in some contexts, but the use of the word “metric” for each of them is quite misleading.
The “case studies” that make up most of the book are no more illuminating about the nuts and bolts of implementing a measurement process. They consist mainly of the authors’s big-company clients patting themselves on the back while describing the things that were important to them in various deals, without describing any process for scoring or comparing these factors.
The author does take great pains, however, to remind us that, e.g., she once did some research at Cal Tech, that her current firm (into which her old firm merged) is “considered the world experts in Negotiation and Relationship Management processes” (at 57), and that she wrote another book (which you are encouraged to buy and read). This constant huckstering is tiresome. So is the prose style. It’s an endless permutation of empty business-speak like “leadership”, hand-off,” competency” and “critical”, e.g., “leadership is critical at this stage” (as if it isn’t at other stages?), or the non sequitur: “The operationalization metrics, a cumbersome term, relates [sic] to the multitude of activities that put flesh around the skeleton of the alliance. This is also the moment of alliance hand-off from those who developed and negotiated the alliance to those who must implement it [at 63].”
If you can tolerate soporific prose about alliances, you would be much better off reading Mark De Rond’s “Strategic Alliances as Social Facts”. In addition to critiquing the “life cycle” model of alliances on which Segil relies, it offers a great deal of substance — including a convincing argument that the success or failure of alliances often is based on factors the parties didn’t initially expect to measure.
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About the Author
Larraine Segil is a senior executive with extensive entrepreneurial, management, start-up, and turnaround experience. She is world renowned for her expertise in cross cultural conflict resolution and the creation, implementation, and management of complex business alliances and outsourcing relationships in a multitude of industries. Through knowledge gained while living in South Africa, Canada, the Middle East, and other areas, Larraine possesses a successful record for innovative problem solving, leading to buy-in for complex change management in cross-cultural organizations. For more than 20 years Larraine presented “Global Alliances” as part of the executive education program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to senior executives and instructed executive education programs worldwide. She is Vice Chairperson of the Governing Board and Chairperson of the Foundation Board for The Committee of 200, a global organization comprised of female business leaders striving to provide women with business advancement, education, mentoring, and recognition. She is a highly sought after keynote speaker and has made numerous appearances on CNN and CNBC regarding topics including alliances and mergers, both global and domestic, as well as critical customer supplier, channel, and outsourcing relationships. Larraine and her husband live on an urban farm with a vineyard, 300 exotic fruit trees, and a banana plantation in California where they raise goats, chickens, quail, and tilapia. She makes cheeses, jams, relishes, and breads to provide to local chefs, family, and friends. Larraine also loves to spend as much time as is possible with her son, her daughter-in-law, and her four beautiful grandsons.
Originally published: 2004