I often reflect on the power of partnerships. In today’s complex digital world, the simplistic idea of ‘1 + 1 = 3’ perhaps doesn’t go far enough in addressing the necessarily more complex nature of partnerships and alliances today.

We live in an age where no single vendor can offer an entire solution on their own, however desirable this may be. Indeed, it often takes a team of vendors to pull together to get it right for the customer.

Rowing to victory

Sports analogies may be somewhat clichéd in business but for me, having worked successfully with so many partners and alliances in the last few years, successful business partnerships remind me in many ways of competitive rowing, which also happens to be a passion of mine. Indeed, perhaps it’s my long-term interest in rowing that has pre-disposed me to working successfully with our partners.  A joint win is a win whatever way you look at it, and when it comes to rowing, no other win is possible.

If you talk to rowers about what rowing teaches them about the importance of partnership, they’ll mention trust, shared values, honesty and openness, commitment and tenacity. I know from personal experience, both as a rower and in business that these hold true for me.

Being part of a winning team can be a transformational experience; especially when it transcends a single-ego into a shared spirit of teamwork.

I was very taken by this story featuring James Cracknell talking about his experiences working alongside Sir Steve Redgrave. What I like most is the reminder that in any strong partnership there is much to learn from other members of the team. It’s not just about clambering aboard and rowing as fast as you can. Strategy is key and that can only be clearly defined by working in true partnership.
A shared vision and purpose

It’s notable that, when rowing competitively, there is no room to shine individually. You have to shine as a single unit, or not at all. You have to be united in the course you’re taking, clearly rowing in the same direction and at the optimum pace for the whole team.

To achieve that, you have to share vision.  If that vision is getting it right for the end-customer, rather than the interests of any particular team member, then you’re set to become a winning team.

CenturyLink is fueled by that single purpose. It is our understanding of the importance of partnerships in achieving this that has shaped the way we have created our business model – firmly with partnership in mind. That means we see ourselves as part of the team. We have worked to make our technology simple and flexible, with partners in mind, and we are set up as an organization to support this ethos as effectively as possible.

In today’s digital economy, it’s a fact that companies that partner effectively are better placed to work across a broader range of industries and bring innovative digital products and services to market faster and more efficiently.

For many that means moving out of a canoe and into something bigger, alongside new partners and alliances. It might also mean sharing strategy and data for the common good.

Whatever the case, for me, it’s all about being an effective part of a winning team.

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