This week women’s rights took a big blow with the dissolution of the partnership between the Susan G. Komen charity and Planned Parenthood. One side says its politics; the other side says the rules of the relationship have changed. Sounds like a scene from divorce court right? Well here’s what we can learn from this disintegrating relationship.
Communicate perceived weaknesses
Planned Parenthood’s stance is that Komen is bowing to political pressure and that they were blindsided. Komen says that it just didn’t fit their criteria anymore. A partnership is an extension of your business goals and although those goals do change, what shouldn’t change is how you communicate what you need from your partner. You have to have conversations and those conversations have to be meaningful.
Align your values
While it’s true you are going to have staff members who don’t support the partnership, you need to make sure that their resistance won’t be used to terminate the partnership. Komen hired Karen Handel as the VP of Public Policy and it’s said that she is pro-life and publicly denounced Planned Parenthood. The moral of this story is that you can’t form a partnership without agreeing on some fundamental things and marrying another company that hates a big part of what you do is a recipe for disaster.
Have multiple sources of funding
Forming a partnership can create a lifeboat in your business, but just like revenue streams this situation has taught us that we need to be aware of multiple partnerships. As partnerships evolve and outgrow each other, there is a need to be aware of alternatives. It’s worth looking into multiple partnerships, because just one revenue stream is madness.
Headquarters doesn’t always know best
This decision was made at the national level and several state affiliates have openly disagreed with the decision. This is a powerful point that most businesses miss. Before you make a decision about your staff’s future you need to have a conversation with them. You need their input and you should have a good gauge of their reaction before you make any change, their acceptance or reluctance is going effect you whether you like it or not.
Partnerships are not easy, but they can be beneficial to everyone involved as long as you lay down some ground rules. Your business is your baby, do you really want to leave its future up to someone else?