Strategic Alliance: How to Optimize Partnership

Regardless of our talents, if we cannot get along with people (Strategic Alliance), it is unlikely our plans would succeed. All this planning is worthless if we cannot get the cooperation of other people. Why? Because number one, you need someone who is in a position to get you what you want. Example, you want to be promoted to a higher position in your office. You cannot say that, I’ll promote myself to become a General Manager of the company, because I like it. The problem there is not whether you like it or not. Nobody gives a damn whether you like it. You say, I want to be the GM of the company. And your boss would answer: Sure, you can start your own company and become the GM as long as you want.

Alfred 1

So the first point in strategic alliance is: “Get them to like it too.” How? Well it’s not about them liking exactly what you want. But liking the idea, that helping you get what you want will also advance their interest. That is one of the surest ways in order for them to help or promote what you want by advancing their interest whether directly or indirectly. That is not selfish, that is just human nature. You know the difference between an average thinker and a strategist? An average thinker thinks that: “My concern should be you’re concern.” Because he feels justified with his concern, it means that the other person should also feel justified for him. On the other hand, the strategist thinks: “How can I get the other person become concerned over my concern.” There is no much different between the strategist and the average thinker. They both have concerns. The only difference is that the strategist flips the script and that he re-frames it to the advantage also of the other person. This is important ingredient in Strategic Alliance.

Your counterpart should see it in such a way that to advance your interest would also mean advancing his. So how do you do this? How do you achieve strategic alliance? One way is to make a concession. In order for a transaction to move, we must be able to “sacrifice” as something that is perceived by the other negotiating party as valuable to you. And this need not be costly. So in order to get someone to do what you want you must be able also to make concessions. Basically, concession is about giving something perceived as valuable to you in order to give value to the next person.” Now, whatever that is, it is very subjective. And it’s not limited to material things. Would you agree that even the sacrifice of another would be seen as giving value to the other person? This is what forming strategic alliance is.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, forming strategic alliance through concessions need not be costly to the giver, although it entails some sacrifice. At least the way it was perceived by the other party. In the following diagram, we would see the “Relative Value of Concessions”



Costly Trade


Material yet Symbolic


Unnecessary Cost




Quadrant 1 which is the costly trade is the one to be avoided at all cost. This is a high value to the giver and high value to the receiver as well. The trade-off is not commensurate. Example: Selling your house to put up a business. This is too much damage to the giver especially if the business did not deliver as expected. Another form of the first quadrant is quitting your job which gives you stable income and abruptly entering into business. Strategic Alliance should be attained with the least amount of cost and maximum benefit.Alfred_6

We would not go into all four quadrants, and thus focus on the first and the second quadrant which are the polar opposite of one another. If the first quadrant, should be avoided at all cost because it is not commensurate especially to the giver, the second quadrant should be maximized. The reason for that is it high value to the receiver yet low value to the giver. As an example, I will site my own example when I became the president for the fiscal year 2018-2019 of the first Toastmasters Club in Asia. In every toastmasters meeting, we have club contests in speech. We have three categories such as Table Topics, Prepared Speech and Evaluation Contest.

Apparently, the club contest is held every first and third Thursday of the month. And for every winner of any of the three categories, we would award a ribbon which was imported from Toastmasters International. As president, it is incumbent upon me to present the ribbons to the winner. For the winners, receiving a ribbon is more than giving them appreciation but recognition of their performance which is symbolized by the Toastmasters International ribbon. Meantime, a strange thing happened. We run out of ribbons and the immediate past president were not able to turn-over the inventory. In other words, there was none left of the Toastmasters ribbon in my possession.

Fortunately, a couple of years before I got elected as president of the club, I’ve been winning speech contests from all three categories. In fact I have a collection of at least fifteen ribbons in every category. I thought instead of delaying the awarding of ribbons which was a no-no in our club why not donate my ribbons to the winner during club meetings. True enough the winners for every category were delighted to receive a ribbon each. Without them knowing that it came from my own collection of ribbons. Sure it came from my efforts so I can display it on my wall in the house. However, I realized I cannot pawn them and besides, I know that I’m already good and not be reminded. It just became symbolical to me but it does not hurt to give some who would appreciate it more. This can be a form of strategic alliance.

Also, we are all competitive and have a certain degree of aggression. I think all of us are aggressive and competitive to a certain degree. Because when you want something for yourself, you’re out there to get and this takes some form of aggressiveness. In achieving strategic alliance with someone or with a group, we need to bring out also certain aggressiveness in them.

Haven’t you noticed that if you want something badly from the other person they can become passive with you? Most often, if they know that you are so intent to get that one thing, that information would give them power over you. That’s why it’s not always advisable to show your intent too much. Meantime, if you have something of value to them. Such as a threat, challenge or reward that they perceive. And that they see you slightly turning your attention to their “perceived competition,” unconsciously you would be surprised how they would respond. It’s like having more than one supplier of materials or services they would try to compete with one another. This gives you leverage. If you have an alternative, and you’re willing to walk away, they will try to chase you. It’s a fact in human nature, were all vain creatures in varying degrees. That is social proof. And in Strategic Alliance, there are two important points. Concession and be willing to take the Alternative.