Forbes offers 15 ways to improve business partnership collaboration – let’s dig deeper into three suggested areas

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Having been called upon to be a leadership keynote speaker I am always on the lookout for material to enhance my knowledge and share with others. Focusing on collaboration and both preventing negative conflict and promoting positive conflict management and conflict resolution using mediation and negotiation techniques I appreciated this article from Forbes. The article offers 15 ways to improve business partnership collaboration. In general, I find that most people including me can only remember about three things so the commentary that follows focuses on three of the areas, in particular with additional insights you may find helpful based on additional research.


Forbes article 15 insights


The 15 insights presented from Forbes are a great checklist for you to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Set clear goals and expectations
  2. Prioritize open communication
  3. Foster transparency and mutual understanding
  4. Change your perspective
  5. Join industry advocacy organizations
  6. Be realistic
  7. Form strategic alliances
  8. Leverage complementary strengths
  9. Prioritize trust
  10. Do an internal examination
  11. Develop joint strategies
  12. Have an invitation mindset
  13. Share media opportunities
  14. Schedule regular meetings
  15. Engage in thoughtful leadership

All of these are great ideas, but let’s take a look at three of these ideas in greater depth. These are:

Prioritize Trust

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Prioritize Open Communication


Prioritize Trust


The authors in the article suggest “prioritizing trust” by “Fostering a culture of collaboration within an organization also helps build stronger and more effective partnerships. This is true, but let’s dig deeper. What is trust? To build trust you have to be honest and have a willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of the other party. In The Collaboration Effect trust is defined as “a firm belief in reliability, truth, ability or strength in someone or something.” Focusing on the “someone” within the definition means that you have to have confidence in them. You believe they are reliable and that you can count on them. Similarly, they can count on you.

A short less than 3 minute video with Colin Powel about leadership and trust is worth watching. It is important to create an organization and a partnership with trust. Followers trust good leaders. Good leaders can take others past what science says it is possible to go.

Leaders provide a clear mission statement while demonstrating selfless service.

You provide your team with what they need to get the job done. You need to be prepared to take the risks with them. They can count on you, and you can count on them.

Now you have to take that to a new level with your partnership. What do you know about each other? How can you bring different organizations together? How do you thank your new team? That is, the new team that is collaborating together. How do you ensure that everyone has the resources they need? How do you give everyone the chance to shine in achievement and leadership? This is not easy. However, focusing on these questions together and developing a consistent approach and message will help you build trust as a collaborative team. It doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it.


Set Clear Goals and Expectations


Why did you first consider forming this partnership and what have you learned to define your joint mission, vision, strategy, goals, and expectations? First know yourself and your organization’s DNA. Work to understand your partner’s too and share expectations. Work together to set clear and achievable goals. Then move from goals to accomplishments and celebrate successes with joint efforts. Put together an action plan for a specific time frame and set up periodic check ins to see how you are doing.  Then you can either stop, continue, or start new actions as you collectively explore the facts and determine what you need to do next.

You need to spell out not just goals, but dig deeper and determine roles, procedures, and how interpersonal relationships will tie in

knowing that there will be times you will initially form, have natural storming (professional conflict towards challenging each other to meet goals), developing your norms, and eventually knowing that you will perform at a higher level. Why? Because from the beginning you planned your goals and expectations to reach this higher level of performance. Check out The Servant Manager that offers you many tips on how to lead as a servant manager to inspire your team to reach beyond what they thought they could accomplish.


Prioritize Open Communication


It is important to share what you can ethically, morally, and legally. Open communication fosters trust. By being transparent as much as possible this ties into the other two elements elaborated on here by prioritizing trust and setting clear goals and expectations. How do you know whether this is happening or not?

Having key stakeholders work on initiating, building, and maintaining authentic, connecting relationships is key.

This gives everyone a chance to share questions and concerns and acknowledge positive developments. Celebrate successes.

With regular check ins and with a continual focus on feed forward this sets the stage for creativity and productivity. Focus on what we will do going forward with what we know today. Be tough on the problems that develop but be gentle on the people. As others understand this as your culture this will be reinforced, and the team will surprise you with how much they can accomplish. They will be watching each other’s backs to make sure everyone is on the same page working towards the common goal.




By considering all of the elements presented in the article and focusing on the three big picture items elaborated here you will be setting up your business partnership collaboration for success. In terms of  The Collaboration Effect, you will develop connecting relationships, listening actively to understand all stakeholders’ concerns, and then educating each other on how to make improvements as you work together. This will give you a high probability of success. Keep focused on the vital few and follow up all of these areas for a successful business partnership collaboration. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]