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The Lion and the Dolphin

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We are continuing with our series on Aesop’s ancient fables and David Noonan derived powerful business insights and the management imperatives.

 

The Lion and the Dolphin

We are continuing with our series on Aesop’s ancient fables and David Noonan derived powerful business insights and the management imperatives.

As the fable goes:

The king of the jungle was roaming by the seashore saw a Dolphin lift its head out of the waves. Brother Dolphin said the Lion, how nice for us to meet. The Lion suggested that they contract an alliance, saying that of all the animals they ought to be the best friends, since the one was the king of beasts on the earth, and the other was the sovereign ruler of all the inhabitants of the ocean.

Your proposal makes a lot of sense replied the Dolphin and gladly consented to this request.

Not long afterwards the Lion had a combat with a wild bull, who turned out to be a good fighter and pinned down the king of beasts. The Lion then called on the Dolphin to help him. The Dolphin, though quite willing to give him assistance, was unable to do so, as he could not by any means reach the land. Eventually, the Lion prevailed and the wild bull fled into the woods.

The Lion then called the Dolphin a traitor; a fine friend you turned out to be. I could have been killed and you didn’t do anything to help me. The Dolphin replied, “Nay, my friend, blame not me, but Nature, which, while giving me the sovereignty of the sea, has quite denied me the power of living upon the land.”

The moral:When choosing allies, consider their abilities as well as heir willingness to help.

Management Perspective: According to Noonan; All of us can use a good ally. In the office, mentors and friends in high places can help our careers. On larger scale, alliances between companies can create synergies that benefit both organizations.

The question is; Who are your personal allies at work? How have they helped you in the past? Has your company ever hooked up with another company in a business venture? How did it work out?

Reality check: The divorce rate for business partners is 80%. That includes partnerships between individuals and entire companies.

There are many issues to consider when forming strategic alliances:  company size, financial health, relative market share, cultural compatibility, shared goals, shared commitment, and geographic coverage. The world is filled with stories of peoples, companies, and governments forming partnerships and alliances that altered the course of history.

Examples of partnerships that went bad

NASA: In 1999, NASA teamed up with the aeronautics experts at Lockheed Martin to build a $125 million orbiter that the space agency planned to circle around Mars to collect data in preparation for further expeditions.

What could go wrong with this partnership? On its surface, you’ve got two air and space pioneers with decades of experience in their industries, teaming up to boldly go where no man-made machine had ever gone before.  Unfortunately, the plan unraveled because the engineers behind the design and operation of the orbiter were not thinking in alignment from the start.

You see, NASA uses the metric system (which some would call a more science-oriented system of measurement), while Lockheed Martin uses the somewhat antiquated English system. While this difference itself isn’t exactly a deal-breaker—one can convert from one system to the other and back again—it proved to be so in this case.

The use of two different measurement systems doomed the satellite because, as it turned out, the ground crews couldn’t correctly transmit navigational coordinates between labs in Colorado and California. The orbiter was lost because of this, and NASA was out $125 million. Oops!

 

While you may not be planning to launch anything into space, the lesson here is to be sure that your partner is always on the same page as you, even with the smallest details. You don’t want minor differences to turn into deal-breakers or company killers

Example of good partnerships

Macdonald’s:In 1948, business partners Maurice and Richard McDonald decided to revamp their chain of barbeque restaurants by going into business with a paper cup salesman named Ray Kroc. Kroc offered the McDonald brothers a sizeable chunk of change for the franchise rights to their restaurant, and what started as a pipe dream turned into the international powerhouse under the Golden Arches. McDonald’s restaurants blossomed everywhere, with a total of 31,000 locations raking in $22.7 billion per year.

You may not have found the next McDonald’s, but if you’re looking to build your business, a solid partnership is a great place to start. Just be sure that you don’t compromise your original goals to do so and that any relationships you create represent a two-way street that proves mutually beneficial to both partners.

Twitter:Founded by Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jack Dorsey, Twitter is an excellent example of successful business partnerships. In less than 3 years, these individuals managed to grow Twitter from the sound a bird makes to an incredible industry where over 63% of the brands in the world signing on to use it. From the surface of the earth to the bottom of the oceans and even in orbit, Tweets are being sent and received across the planet.

Business Moral: Form alliances with capable partners who share the same key goals.

References:

Noonan, David. Aesop & the CEO: Powerful Business Insights from Aesop’s Ancient Fables. Nelson Books

http://www.businessinsider.com/11-excruciating-business-partner-breakups-2010-11?IR=T

https://www.upcounsel.com/blog/4-biggest-blunders-in-historic-business-partnerships

http://www.billionairebio.com/8-biggest-business-partnership-success-stories/

 

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