Getting to We is a process. After partners assess the levels of trust and compatibility between them and agree that there is enough trust and compatibility, they are ready to move on to the next step in the process: developing a shared vision for the relationship.
It is vital that the parties view each other as partners in each other’s success. Their relationship is not a one-way street. The buying company should be as interested in the service provider’s success as the service provider is interested in its client’s success. Why? A successful service provider makes the buying company more successful.
When companies embrace the idea that trusting each other is vital to their success, a transformation occurs. Now they are working together to achieve a shared purpose and vision for the future.
The Importance of a Shared Vision
Some partnerships wonder why developing a shared vision is important. A shared vision sets the course for the relationship. The vision acts like a compass focusing all conversations, no matter how big or small, on achieving that vision.
“Visions inspire—breathe life into—our work in the here and now, from the most profound to the most mundane,” writes Peter Senge, author of many books on the subject of building effective business teams. Similarly, a shared vision for a partnership breathes life into a We relationship. It puts the people in the relationship on the same page and gives them a bigger purpose.
A shared vision also helps parties direct their energy and efforts in a new direction: away from a sole focus on individual needs to determine the best path for mutual success. Absent a shared vision, businesses and individuals tend to fall victim to short-term “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFMe) thinking as they sit across from each other at the negotiation table. The shared vision process gives the parties a reason to sit side by side; it strengthens their relationship and can lead to a deeper understanding of each party’s business and how to leverage each other’s strengths for mutual gain.
An Example of Shared Vision in Action
The Jaguar and Unipart partnership is an excellent example of a shared vision’s power to redirect a partnership and achieve mutual success.
Jaguar began working with Unipart almost 25 years ago. The initial focus of the outsourcing effort was aftermarket parts fulfillment in the United Kingdom.
When Jaguar entered into its contract with Unipart, Jaguar ranked ninth on customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power and Associates survey. When Sir Nick Scheele became Jaguar’s CEO in 1992, he realized the relationship wasn’t working as well as it could. During an informal dinner with Unipart’s CEO, John Neill, Scheele discussed how the companies could improve their business model while also deriving more positive benefits for both Jaguar and Unipart.
Their discussions ultimately led to the creation of a shared vision statement that embodies the “What’s In It For We” (WIIFWe) mindset:
Jaguar–Unipart Vision Statement
To support Jaguar dealers in delivering a Unique Personal Ownership Experience to Jaguar drivers worldwide, ensuring industry-leading owner loyalty through partnership and world-class logistics.
Not only does the shared vision focus the partnership; it focuses on the dealerships and Jaguar drivers. It is results-oriented and future-focused and links the companies’ goals—and destinies. They know the partnership’s purpose, and they use the vision statement to transcend self-interest.
And no, this wasn’t a touchy-feely exercise. It was much more: The shared vision set the foundation for a WIIFWe mindset, enabling a collaborative breakthrough between Jaguar and Unipart.
Their partnership led to transformational improvements in getting Jaguar’s service parts logistics to be best in class and achieve impressive business results. Less than seven years after developing their shared vision, the duo moved to number one in the J.D. Power rankings for customer satisfaction in 2010—surpassing Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. Jaguar has maintained that spot in succeeding years.
A good shared vision focuses on creating a culture and ecosystem where the parties work together to ensure mutual success, based their trust for each other and in the partnership and grounded in the guiding principles—the subject of subsequent blogs.
Image: Vision by aforgrave via Flickr CC