Problems in Your Partnership? Focus on Values

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility” Leo Tolstoy

In our practice, we have come to believe that there is very little incompatibility in behaviors that cannot be adapted for.  For some partners, getting along and approaching problems similarly comes more easily. Others may have behavioral traits that require them to work a little harder.   Forewarned is forearmed; with the correct understanding,  it is possible to make

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TAGS: Partnerships, Facilitation

Are You Hewlett and Packard? What You Can Learn About Your Partnership From Our New Compatibility Report


“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

 Assessing the behaviors and motivators of our clients and creating an overlay of the styles of all the partners in the business has always been a part of our practice.  We now have a new report that provides even more integration of the comparison of two business partners. It addresses three main areas:

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TAGS: Partnerships, Facilitation, Co-founders

Thinking Like A Business Partner

“If two men agree on everything one of them is unnecessary.” - Henry Ford

 Advice about finding the right business partner almost always includes looking for someone with complementary skills. Especially in a start-up poised to grow rapidly, it seems smart to get partners with clearly distinct skills. But the truth is that a partnership can perform very well even when the partners do not have clearly defined complementary skills. In most cases a leader can hire someone with the skills they need. What partnerships have trouble surviving is a lack of complementary thinking styles.

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TAGS: Coaching, Merging

Assessing Your Partnership Fit

If you are considering a merger or acquisition, or hiring with an eye toward an internal succession plan, your fit as partners will matter more than any other factor when it comes to the success of your practice.  In fact, San-Francisco-based Funders and Founders estimates that 62% of merger failure is due to partnership conflict. 

“Fit” can take into account lots of elements of compatibility; we’ll use it here to mean skills, behaviors and motivations.  Most are looking for someone with complementary skills; someone with strengths in areas where they feel less capable.  Ideally,

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TAGS: Merging, Co-founders

Learning From Partnership Failures

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." - Henry Ford

We all hope to learn from our mistakes, so we found it a little surprising when our recent survey of about 150 business partners revealed a troubling trend. Only 38% of those who had been in a previous partnership that “ended badly” report having worked with their current partner prior to joining forces. This is slightly lower than for those in first partnerships.

Working together before taking the leap into a partnership is one of the most important steps that prospective partners can take. Here is a reminder of the top three things that potential partners should do to prevent being part of the grim 70% failure rate for business partnerships:

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TAGS: Partnerships, Coaching, Co-founders

Couples Therapy For Business Partners

 "Those in the game are blind to what those looking on see clearly." -Chinese proverb

Recently a professional who had gone through the breakup of his partnership a few years ago came to us for help before embarking on a new one. “I did not realize how hard it would be on my own,” he admitted. “In retrospect, I think we could have worked it out.” He confessed that he just didn’t know how to approach the issues that led to the breakup.

We advise those who are considering a partnership to be clear about their objectives; partnerships are a long-term solution and forming one to solve a short-term business problem is a recipe for failure. The opposite is also true: it is a

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TAGS: Facilitation, Mediation

Do Women Make Better Business Partners?

Very possibly, yes. While there is little direct study on gender differences among business partners, some of the research on workplace teams may have interesting implications when it comes to how gender plays out in business partnerships.

In a joint study from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Union College published earlier this year, researchers found that the single most important element of an effective work group, was its "average social sensitivity." Basically, they found that the most

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TAGS: Partnerships

The Neuroscience Behind Why Third-Party Intervention Helps Business Partnerships

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  - Albert Einstein

If you have realized that your conflict with your partner isn’t going away, that self-awareness bodes well.  But you may be wondering, “we spent hours talking about our problem with little to no change, how is talking some more to a stranger going to help us?”

The answer is that a third party can be a powerful force to change existing dynamics. Change, as we all know, is hard.  It takes recognition of what the problem is, identifying a new way of doing things, and then activating learning pathways in our brain. One way a mediator can help is associating a reward with the outcome that comes from taking an action.

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TAGS: Mediation

In Order to Form a More Perfect Union: Why Your Partnership Needs a “Constitution”

"It will be of little avail if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read or so incoherent that they cannot be understood." - James Madison

What is a “Partnership Constitution”?

One of the advisors we interviewed for our white paper commented that he realized post-merger that a lot of discussions he had had with his potential partner during their transition period had not been captured in writing: big ideas, small ideas, as well as the vision of what the firm’s culture would be.  A lot of  important decisions were addressed in the firm’s Operating Agreement, of course.  But some of the ideas that emerged during their lengthy pre-merger discussions went undocumented.

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TAGS: Partnerships, Facilitation, Co-founders

When Good Conflict Goes Bad

"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." - Margaret Heffernan

The 50 –year partnership of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger is a fascinating study for many reasons, but especially in terms of how they communicate.  Buffet has described it as having a comfort and ability for “intense discussion” that comes from a “complete lack of envy.” That sounds ideal, but for many people in partnerships this can be very difficult to achieve and maintain. 

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TAGS: Mediation


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