Teamwork: Playing (nice) with partners

Partnership is more than a handshakeTraditionally we have thought of teams as consisting of those connected by an office, an organizational chart, or a brand identity. But in this modern world, those boundaries matter less and less. With contract employees, consortia, "virtual companies" and partnerships emerging as more prominent organizational models, our definition of "team" needs to expand beyond the boundaries of whose payroll system you're on.

Today's teams are organized around shared missions, mutually beneficial alliances and common interests, with many of the players drawing incomes and profits from separate sources but resulting from cooperative efforts. In the travel industry, for example, airlines partner with hotels, shuttle services and restaurants to provide vacation packages to the shopping-weary tourist rather than forming a single company who tries to do it all.

This idea is hardly new. Nor is team building within an organization, even team building that unites newly merging corporate entities under one brand banner.

But what we haven't seen happen much is cross-organizational team building - in the above example, the airline inviting its hotel, shuttle and restaurant partners to participate in a joint team building exercise that builds communication, cooperation, and trust.

It's probably the case because, as the saying goes in on-line dating, "it's complicated." Who will pay? Who will decide what the event is? Is it elective or mandatory? On and on.

But these issues will get worked out, because they need to be. (Just like all partnership issues.)

Partners need to play nice together, trust each other, communicate, cooperate, try to make sure they understand their partner's objectives and how they intersect with one's own. They need to enjoy working together.

Fun team building outings are a great start.

Which of your partners would you like to create a better relationship with today?

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