Partner Jam wraps up this week with perhaps the most common concern. Jeremy and I ask each other (and answer): What happens when parterships don’t go as planned? Is there any way to save the relationship?
HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE IT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG DURING THE PARTNERSHIP LIKE MISSED DEADLINES OR DELIVERABLES?
There are (at least) two ways for a partnership to go wrong. One is where the parties don’t deliver what they were supposed to deliver or deliver the wrong thing or deliver the right thing at the wrong time. The other is where everyone does their part but the deal doesn’t deliver the benefits that the partners were hoping for.
The only way to deal productively with missed deadlines or deliverables is to be clear on timing and specs before the partnership launches since nothing can be objectively “late” or “wrong” without deadlines and standards. At some point in the deal process the parties need to lay out in writing what will be delivered and when. Having clear benchmarks will simplify conversations about whether things have gone wrong, what can be done about it, and how to value any specific misstep.
If a deal is not generating the type of value that the partners anticipated, the first thing to do is test the assumptions that were made about the deal in the face of real-world facts. If you identify a deal component that’s not working as you assumed it would, you can try to come up with fixes. If all your assumptions were right but you actually failed to identify a component, you can try to come up with fixes for that previously unknown component and, as a bonus, you’ll learn something valuable about your business.
Do the exact opposite of what people normally do. In other words, deal with it proactively. It’s important not to be accusational or make assumptions. Instead, ask questions like:
- When do you expect xyz to happen?
- Is there anything you need from me?
- Is there any reason why we couldn’t finish that by the end of the week?
Make sure your partner has all the information as early as possible in the process, whether it’s assets to design a webpage or being aware of your client’s expectation for the project.