How partners make decisions

Partnerships are wonderful things. You put together the strengths of two or more people and they work together for a single purpose. The whole can be so much greater than the sum of the parts.

At least that is the theory. And it does often happen that way. But too often businesses run by partners can founder or stagnate. And this is not because the partners don’t have the aforementioned strengths but usually because they are missing the other thing I mentioned in that theory: the single purpose.

If there is no clearly agreed single purpose for the partnership then it becomes impossible to make informed, consistent and actionable decisions. I have worked to help many companies whose partners are having some difficulty moving the business forward. Their difficulties are usually not caused by their incompetence, or difficult personalities, or inability to schedule meetings with each other – the problem is almost always that they don’t actually have a sense of common purpose: of why the partnership exists and what is its goal.

When there is a goal and a sense of purpose, then decisions can be based on it. The partners feel that they are going somewhere – together. Now they have a solid basis for empowering individuals to make decisions for the group, and they don’t to have to struggle to schedule meetings together and reach consensus. Because they are all agreed on the purpose and where they are going, day to day tactical decisions can be made in a timely fashion. And forward movement is achieved.