Most strategic partnerships are purchase orders


Buzzwords are the bain of the business world. My personal worst is “bring you up to speed”. I’m not sure why that is, possibly because it has been overused by people around me.

“Strategic partner” is another one that is best left alone. It is used to describe every possible relationship that business people can have. While the intention is good it very often is used describe relationships which are seldom strategic and never really partnerships in the true sense of the word.

It seems that if we call someone a “strategic partner” we are saying we like you and we want you to be close.

Scott McNealy (of Sun Microsystems fame) got taken apart this week in a Harvard Business Review article  for tweeting:

“Most over used phrase in business is ‘strategic partner.’ Favorite partnership for me is a purchase order. Defined charter, beginning, end.”

The author of the article, Ben Gomes-Casseres, who is is currently writing a book on alliances, describes what a strategic partner should look like. Unfortunately many companies approach the issue as McNealy does, using the term to describe what is essentially a transaction.

Author: Dale Williams

Dale is based in Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa from where he maintains connections with people all over the world through his portfolio life.