I recently listened to an interview involving Pete Wharton, IBM’s Commerce Solutions Product Marketing Leader.
During the segment, Wharton indicated that IBM’s plan was to “create an ecosystem of technology partners to extend IBM’s service capabilities to its customers.”
The interviewer then made the statement that it sounded as if IBM was “trying to corner or corral the cloud,” by “unifying a segmented world through a very active partnership acquisition strategy.”
While acknowledging that he had never thought of it in that context, Wharton fully agreed with the interviewer’s perspective. Yes, IBM is focused on acquiring relationships with key partners as opposed to acquiring and assimilating companies, as a means of becoming the dominate player in the cloud.
The interviewer then asked what I considered to be the most important question; “how is this collective and collaborative cloud going to be governed?” Is IBM going for what he referred to as being an “influence without assimilation model,” where each partner maintains total autonomy, yet derives benefit from the centralized coordination of diverse experiences and shared expertise?
While Wharton liked the influence without assimilation approach through a central coordination of stakeholder capabilities, he deferred to senior management relative to the specifics of the governance model itself.
The importance of the centralized coordination of diverse experiences and shared expertise based on a clear objective is something that I had recognized a long time ago. In fact, it formed the basis for creating, the Relationships Management Office or RMO model that I have, over the years, successfully implemented time and again.
The Relationships Management Office; The New Governance Model Standard
What are your goals as a ministry, agency and private or public sector organization? Once you establish the why, you then have to focus on how you will manage the relationships to achieve said goals.
It is the job of the RMO to not only understand your goals but to provide, through coaching, capacity building training and support services, the means by which you will establish and manage collaborative, insight based infrastructures for delivering improved outcomes. This includes the creation of Relationship Charters – something about which I have written at length in previous posts.
Think of it in terms of an agent-based approach to managing relationship-driven outcomes.
For those who are unfamiliar with agent-based models, it is a method for taking into account the actions and interactions of autonomous agents (both individual or collective entities such as organizations or groups) with a view to assessing their effects on the system – or in this case initiative – as a whole.
Or to put it another way, the RMO office proactively seeks to identify the best partners or stakeholders individually, within the context of better facilitating their role in the greater or collective outcome.
In this regard, the management of complex relationships extend beyond simple oversight, to include improved insight into how individual capabilities and interests can be combined to achieve a mutually beneficial result.
It is also within this context that I believe that 2015 may finally become the year of the Relationships Management Office (and Officer).