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Maximising impact through strategic partnerships

In Part 3 of our new insights series, we look at how trust-based, strategic partnerships are key to maximising both the potential of innovation endeavours and the ability to deal with change and ambiguity.

22/11/2021
November 22, 2021
-
3
min read

Over the past 18 months, we’ve gone from helping our clients adapt and respond to disruptive forces, to being thrust head-on into that disruption ourselves. Navigating change and uncertainty is always challenging, but this period of intense, accelerated learning revealed the five qualities we believe are essential when establishing any digital innovation partnership. In this insights series, we look at those qualities one by one.

It’s often said that “if you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” But for more and more companies, attempting to journey ‘alone’ on the path to digital transformation is back-firing. Sure, it’s easy to find a vendor that can build ad hoc briefing based digital solutions, but without a holistic approach, a patchwork of solutions ultimately slows a company down, preventing it from leveraging the full power of digital – or worse, being overtaken by a competitor.  

Rather than going it alone, building a strategic partnership with a trusted digital innovation partner can signal a new chapter in which sustained growth and impact are not only possible, but much more likely.

Shifting from a delivery to an impact driven mindset is crucial

Being trapped in a short-term, delivery mindset – with an overly strong focus on timelines, budgets and deliverables – makes innovation difficult, if not impossible. And companies that don’t innovate find themselves stagnating, and risk being out-run by competitors. 

A real innovation track is all about testing and adapting, and then scaling the right ideas. This means that often, we start without knowing exactly what the end result will look like. In a world of metrics and KPIs, and increasing pressure to deliver results fast, companies can find it difficult to allow themselves to cultivate a true innovation mindset, definitely in indispensable external collaborations with partners. That’s where finding a trusted strategic partner comes in.

Establishing mutual trust in a partnership leads to mutual success

Bringing in an experienced and trustable digital innovation partner enables companies to benefit from an objective perspective, new ideas, and key expertise that can drive both the short- and longer-term outcomes they’re looking for. 

At November Five, the outcomes that most of our clients are seeking have typically been too complex and valuable to simply hand off to a generic third party. So, unconsciously, we have been building strategic partnerships that far outgo the typical client-vendor relationship for years.


These partnerships are built on a solid foundation of mutual trust, which takes time and effort to establish, but which brings immeasurable value when we embark together on innovation endeavours that may not have a clear destination.

Some of the key ways we nurture trust, and strengthen our partnerships are:

  • Gaining insight into each other's future vision: As we get to know each other, we gain a deep understanding of each other's business goals beyond the project in question. To maximise our collaboration, we encourage purposeful and active cross-functional engagement across both our organisations.
  • Learning together: To establish and maintain the most fertile ground for our collaboration, we make sure we’re speaking the same language. We share updates and knowledge with our clients, onboard them in our methodology and philosophy, and involve them in retrospectives that help us all learn and improve.
  • Being aligned and in tune with our clients: We make our clients part of our team, and us of theirs. Where our high-paced way of working doesn’t align completely with the approach of our larger corporate clients, we actively seek a middle ground to ensure that our unique impact materialises in the most appropriate way.
  • Being part of the decision team: Rather than talking to business through their IT departments, we position ourselves as a ‘third leg to the stool’ when it comes to discussing a company’s digital ambitions so that our experience and expertise can be of value at the right moment.

The advantages of building strategic partnerships for innovation are innumerable and we are committed to pursuing this approach. We’re starting to bring more structure to our partnership programmes so our clients always know that they have fertile ground for innovation wherever they turn.

Key take-away

Excelling in today’s fast-paced and competitive world is more challenging than ever, but rather than trying to do it alone, companies should shift their mindset and explore how strategic partnerships can help them drive innovation, navigate uncertainty and maximise their chances for success.

Brecht Spileers

Director Strategy & Growth

22/11/2021
November 22, 2021
-
3
min read

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About Fast Company’s ‘Best Workplace for Innovators’

November Five was named one of Fast Company’s global 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators in both 2020 and 2021. This annual list, developed in collaboration with Accenture, recognises and honors the top 100 businesses from different industries that inspire, support and promote innovation at all levels. For the consecutive year, November Five was the single Belgian workplace listed.

Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company and FastCompany.com inspire readers and users to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations and create the future of business.

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