Multi-purpose: What can the Ponte Vecchio teach us about partnerships?

Pont Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio: lesson about multi-purpose in a business partnership

When is a bridge more than a bridge?  When it’s the Ponte Vecchio in Florence Italy. Completed in 1345, the Ponte Vecchio has served its walled city and occupants in multiple ways. It was originally designed to connect the two halves of the city and bring the community together serving as a social hub, street, marketplace and public “square.” Over the centuries, like a small house in need of repair and expansion, there have been many annexes and add-ons made to the bridge, giving it less of a bridge look and more like an eclectic shopping mall.

Multi-purpose: What can the Ponte Vecchio teach us about partnerships?

Since the Ponte Vecchio was one of the few surviving bridges in Florence during WWII, it might be said that it served important additional purposes and would, therefore, be non-strategic to destroy. In a business partnership, it’s often the case that each partner brings multiple complementary assets to the relationship. It’s also likely that over the length of the relationship, some of those assets become less important or perhaps complete thorns in the overall scope of the shared work. At that point, it’s wise to sit down and have a strategic conversation about 1) is the “thorny” asset a partnership breaker? 2) hopefully not, so how can it be sidelined to no longer impact the overall effectiveness of the working relationship?  Ultimately, a good business partnership that continues to provide value to its end users and creators and, in which trust and genuine interest in each other’s success is still solid, will lead partners to finding a solution to annex the problem asset and build a stronger bridge over it.

In the SaaS (software as a solution) field, we often build APIs (application programming interface) between partners, basically technical bridges to communicate information and data between two entities. While we may have initially created pathways for multiple areas of information to be shared for a variety of purposes (technical, operational, data sharing, sales channel, marketing content), we have on occasion discovered that over time, certain streams of information aren’t really producing the expected results or efficiencies for one partner or the other. This is one area where a good API management strategy is helpful. The results can be valuable and measured against strategy and appropriate changes in the API can then be reviewed and made.

Share a partnership in which an asset had to be removed or bridged over to save the relationship?

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