Game-changing ingredient: the Iron Bridge and transformational partnerships?

What can the Iron Bridge, UK, teach us about transformational partnerships?

Completed in 1779, the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, England was the first major structure made entirely from cast iron. Stronger than wood and more flexible than stone, its enduring strength to survive flooding and centuries of use has earned it the reputation as an important symbol of the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. From the first flood it weathered, the Severn River flood of 1795, the Iron Bridge was quickly acknowledged by engineers for its innovation which ushered in further iron structures. Cast iron and the steam engine are generally cited as two of the most important innovations that connected economy, technology and social developments in a way that had never been done before.

Game-changing ingredient: What can the Iron Bridge teach us about transformational partnerships?

If you think about what makes a long lasting successful partnership, be it personal or B2B, the key ingredient is the same. Both parties must first like each other and have complementary interests and vision. Even if it’s a B2B arrangement, the CEOs, managers and operating staff need to feel synergy about their shared objectives and each other. The adage that “people do business with people they like” always holds true and is the basis for endurance. Where two parties have formed a business arrangement and there is even mild dislike, the relationship will not withstand the challenges and conflict that will naturally occur over time. In this case, dislike manifests as distrust. And, no business or partnership survives in a distrustful environment. It becomes a cancer that eats away through all levels of the partnering organizations, poisoning relationships between employees and management and company to company.

When the right kind of likeability gets established, the synergy between two partners can result in transformational innovation. For example, think about Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Today, one of the strongest new models for partnership is Salesforce’s connected partner ecosystem. Not only does Salesforce win when its partners succeed, but it also fosters partners to partner with each other, forming even tighter bonds and brand loyalty back to Salesforce. This ecosystem and network of partners has been transformational in creating a dynamic market for cloud based solutions and accelerating the information technology era toward our next “revolution” – data analytics. Was synergy and likeability sought as first ingredients between Salesforce and its hundreds of partners? If you’ve ever been to its annual Dreamforce conference which attracts 40k+ people, you’d know the answer is a whopping “yes”!

Share a secret ingredient from one of your successful partnerships.

Part of a series: Causeways-business insight from the world’s most celebrated bridges
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