Success Begins at the Top
It is hard to overstate the importance of a champion at the senior levels of the organization. Many alliances fail or falter when they lose the executive champion and the role is not back filled with a strong leader.
The role of the champion is many fold. They represent the alliance issues and needs at the senior levels of the organization ensuring that the senior staff is aware of the charter of the alliance and its contribution to company goals. Champions provide strategic guidance to the alliance team to ensure alignment with the strategic imperatives of the organization. They are often called upon to assist in navigating the organization, making introductions and short cutting red tape. Finally, they serve as the last point of escalation when conflicts or major decisions arise that exceed the authority of the alliance team to resolve.
Champions need to be cultural leaders, setting the tone for collaboration and the values and norms that promote a healthy environment for collaboration to thrive. More about the culture for collaboration later, but suffice it to say that champions need to demonstrate and foster partner friendly behavior.
“Our vision is simple. We want P&G to be known as the company that collaborates – inside and out – better than any other company in the world.”
A.G. Lafley, CEO P&G
A.G. Lafley led a major turn-around at P&G through a highly-celebrated ‘Connect and Develop’ strategy. He challenged the organization to source half the innovation for new products from external sources resulting in a renewed pipeline of products and fueling the financial comeback of the company. P&G executed on all the fundamentals for managing successful collaborations, but clearly championship from the top was a critical success factor in that transformational change.