What do you think of, when you think win-win? Most business people will interpret that as “I win and my partner wins”. Unfortunately quite a number will behave differently: “win-win means I win twice!” This, as you can imagine, does not produce sustainable partnerships. Smart business people will not stick with a losing proposition and the alliance collapses or just never performs to expectations. Strong alliances and smart alliance managers ensure that there is benefit and return on investment for all partners in the alliance – a win-win value proposition. But something is still missing from this value proposition.

Sustainable alliances are formed around creating a winning value proposition for customers. So great alliances keep a clear focus on the customer – a Win-Win- Win. Alliances can be formed at any point of the value chain and can create great gains and benefits for partners and customers whether they are formed to develop new innovative products, drive operational efficiencies and better service, or create competitive advantage for your customer.

The Starfish Alliance is an example of an alliance formed in Rolls-Royce Logistics supply chain to increase service level to customers and to decrease costs for the partners. Rolls-Royce chairs a community of five logistic suppliers to optimize end-end performance of the supply chain instead of the individual business silos. Through open collaboration, the alliance has decreased costs by 20% and has a record of 99.9% on-time delivery to customers.

Initially Rolls-Royce faced distrust and skepticism in their vision. “Logistics companies don’t think this way”. They were able to overcome that attitude through a system of Alliance Core Values that was mutually accepted by the partners. These values included “focus on the customer” foremost as well as “open, honest, proactive communications”, “promote environmental responsibility and business ethics”, “create opportunties for growth and breakthroughs”. These values became the governing principles for the alliance and helped to foster win-win-win thinking and behavior.