When choosing an alliance, it’s more important to have the right people involved than it is to have the right idea established.

Use an example of people in a boat, and that boat has no direction; with the wrong people in the boat, you cannot implement an idea, and there will be no forward motion. it will be difficult to get the boat moving in any direction because of internal power struggles, laziness, and/or lack of skill, to name a few.

However, when the right people are in the boat, it matters very little what the idea is because the alliance will eagerly move in any direction needed. This is like the idea that leaders of organizations pay too much attention to what a potential partner can offer in financial terms and do not assess it in terms of characteristics.

Furthermore, organization leaders confuse structure with purpose when building an alliance network. And in fact, conscious design is rarely seen. It is an afterthought, with a tendency to blindside leaders who move quickly into partnerships without viewing the larger network within which the partnership will belong.

By making a point to contemplate the design of an alliance network, it will be clear to see where some partnerships will not be a fit and we can work to dissolve these early on.

Three aspects should be considered when designing an alliance network. First, it is important to remember that like all relationships, a partnership will grow and change. For this reason, potential partners should be selected not just on the benefits they can offer an organization today, but leaders should also look into future opportunities. 

Next, there is much emphasis put on collaboration. This idea is that only with collaboration can a partnership blossom for both parties involved. If not the partnership will have the potential for either organization to act in opportunistic ways.

Moreover, this ties in with the theory of trustworthiness. The characteristics of each partnership will dictate the level of trust involved and how this level of trust or lack of will determine the reputational and economic aspects of conducting exchange transactions with each other.