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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

Celebrating Partnerships this Labor Day

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

In America, we have built a culture of rugged individualism, characterized by a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mindset, the solo superhero CEO, and the strong-link principle in business, sports, and even our government. The strong-link principle (if you are unfamiliar) is when the strength of something is evaluated or equivalent to the strength of the strongest link in the chain. LeBron James is a great example in the NBA; he has shown that the teams he has played on are almost the sum of HIS talent. The other players combined do not come close to what he (one player) can achieve.

It is the same in business: just look at Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. As a leadership and business consulting company, we can tell you, without a doubt, that those men did not singlehandedly build the teams and companies that they oversaw. For a generation or two, we have seen the same strong-link principle inundate our American political system. Our Founding Fathers tried to set up a system that was NOT a monarchy, but rather a system of checks and balances where there were three separate, but equal, branches of government. Today, I believe we can all attest that there are not three separate but equal branches; a quick course in American Political Science will explain how the Executive Branch of our government has grown disproportionally stronger over the preceding generations. Why? We (or, at least, many of us) like it that way.

However, some of us still understand the power of teamwork and partnerships. We have been blogging about this for some time: We, Not Me talked about how the Atlanta Braves won the World Series by having a team-centered mentality, When the Sum is Greater Than Its Parts discussed the science of teamwork and the increased output of working together, and The Best Business Partners We Have talked about how a dog named Sadie allowed us to see the value in a partnership!

Here we are at the end of Summer 2022 – Labor Day – and we are going to talk about how we can all experience more, have more, and succeed more when we learn to partner with other businesses and individuals to generate a greater outcome than we could if we went at it alone! Let us celebrate the Labor of our Days by recognizing that none of us are doing this alone. Just like the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in May of 1886 partnered with the Pullman Railcar strike in May of 1894 to create this Federal Holiday of Labor Day, we can partner with our coworkers and other business to form synergies to increase the collective output of the entire group.

It has been quoted quite often as an African Proverb, that "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." In today’s time, we believe that you can go both fast and far when you go together! The work is shared and – if done efficiently – can be both more efficient and less taxing on any one individual through the use of technology and systems.

The Internet is a perfect example of this behavior. Ideas, products, and communications can travel faster and further because we are all working collectively, within a set of guidelines, to increase the speed and distance any one idea, product, or communication could if done by a single person. Being collaborative, working in ever-changing partnerships, and putting our egos aside allows these synergies to flourish. The groups that helped us provide this sort of productivity in the past were the trade associations – the Chambers of Commerce, the Kiwanis Clubs, the Lion’s Club, and the many others that organized people on a regular basis – to share ideas and best practices. We are much less collaborative today because many of these organizations have diminished in what they once were. From our increasing “ME” mindset, so far removed from any form of society-wide social group experience like a world war or space race, we have less experience working towards a common goal than ever before; just look at how our entertainment is based on individuals, or how we look at the leadership of our country as largely run by one individual – the President.

A Forbes article outlining twelve principles of collaboration made the unique point that “collaboration makes the world a better place.” Indeed, effective collaboration leads to individual contentment, which indirectly makes a more valuable employee and company culture. Partnerships can be defined as independent organizations that collaborate; in other words, just groups working together towards a common goal. So, how can we work together better to achieve a faster or better outcome for all of us? Well, as business consultants we facilitate (or recommend) three steps to ensure that all partners are on the same page. When things do not go well, it is usually because one of these steps was skipped or one of the partners is no longer abiding by the parameters of the arrangement. Principles for success include:

  1. Have a written expectation plan: At first, it may seem like there is no need to have "who is going to do what" in writing, especially if you already know the business or person you will be partnering with! But, things change over time. People change over time and agreeing to commit to paper what you agree to in conversation has saved many a friendship and relationship – not to mention the legal fees associated with a failed partnership breakup!

  2. Consider your partner part of your team: Act and think as if you were one. After all, you are one group striving towards a common goal. No matter that you wear two differently colored uniforms, you are merely different parts of the same vision, same goals, and same results!

  3. Allow for growth in your partnership: You may just be working collaboratively on a singular project or a joint client, but allow for your collaboration to have no boundaries. Do not put a limit on what you may achieve together. Some or many of your clients, suppliers, and even coworkers may become a shared resource. If you allow the artificial walls to be pulled down and share in what is best for the customer, you will see how abundance – not scarcity – may become your new standard operating procedure!

This blog is a great example of a partnership between Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus. There have been several other contributors over the years, as well. However, The Joshua Group Consulting and Buzz 84 Company have been working collaboratively to produce content for our shared customers for the last 3 years! What started out as a small collaboration between our companies has grown into a partnership that has evolved to grow both our businesses beyond what either of us could have imagined! When we set aside those things and processes that would only have benefited our individual companies to pursue what would benefit our customers and a bigger vision of a joint enterprise, we were rewarded with trust, collaboration, dedication, and a partnership that allows all participants to share in a much bigger vision and service model than either one of our companies could have provided! Or, to say it more simply like we did in our blog from November 2021, "We, Not Me" is how we are thriving as a group of separate companies coming together to serve one another and ultimately you – our customer!

So, celebrate Labor Day this year by thinking about how you or your company can work with others to produce something much better, bigger, and more rewarding than laboring alone! Contact us or comment on this blog at – we will work together to serve one another and produce fantastic results!

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