Research suggests that up to 70% of partnerships fail to deliver their intended outcomes. That’s an incredibly high number and one that borders on emergency status.
I’m reading “Klara and the Sun,” by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a wonderful book about an A.F. (artificial friend) named Klara. Klara is delightful, curious and observant — a good A.F. And the story, told in a first person narrative with Klara being the narrator, adds an element of fascination. I find myself considering, wow, this is how a robot might “think”.
Klara’s “life”, so far (I’m about halfway through), is relatively simplistic as you can imagine a robot’s life would be. She knows her place, is well-mannered, puts her real-life friend, Josie, first, and isn’t emotional about any of it. It got me to thinking about business, specifically partnership problems in business that often arise because partners don’t respect each other or are simply too emotional about their issues.
I have one consulting client right now going through partnership challenges. They’re looking to sell their company to ostensibly buy out a couple of their partners. I also recently spoke to a potential client who is considering drastic steps with her company due to problems with one of her partners. And there’s more! Partnership problems seem to be coming to me more frequently of late. Sometimes I feel like I should have a degree in psychology instead of economics.
It brings to mind my own relationship with my partner in my last company. We worked together for twenty four years, sold our manufacturing company after my twelfth year, bought commercial property and multi-family housing units and kept going together for another twelve years investing in real estate. We did very well. In all our years working together I can’t remember one significant fight or argument. After much thought, I put together a list as to how I think we accomplished this.
None of these things is revolutionary. Everyone can do them. Treat your partner like you would like to be treated. Even minority partners. If they want more information, give it to them. If they want annual meeting notes, write them.
Have mutual respect and keep your emotions in check.
Remember, it’s not personal. It’s business. In short, be more like Klara.
Stories and snippets of wisdom from Cynthia Wylie and Dennis Kamoen. Your comments are appreciated.