In response to last week’s article one of my readers, Michael, spoke from experience when he wrote to me that the quarterly health checks present such great opportunities. It allows him to have a face-to-face meeting with his counterpart and also with the executive stakeholders. Michael is always amazed about what can be found out during such meetings!
In general health checks assess the alliance in three main areas: the same areas as you assessed your partner on when selecting a partner: strategic, operational and cultural fit. Although it will be nice to learn what went well in the alliance, the real value of a health check is in identifying the areas for improvement. As such every health check needs an action plan to actively improve the identified areas.
The personal interview
In his response, Michael already highlighted one of the ways health checks can be performed: by a personal interview with your counterparts. There are a few versions of these personal interviews: I know of companies who run a very light, yet structured, evaluation; they are just looking at what went well and what can be improved. Some follow a rigid structured interview to find the areas of improvement. Sometimes they do this in a workshop format with representatives from both companies.
The online health check
The benefit of an online health check is that more representatives of both companies can participate. The overall response will provide a more objective view on the health of the alliance. Online health checks are often scored on a 5 point rating scale. When all participants have conducted their health survey the results are combined in a spider diagram. This diagram easily highlights the areas for improvement: the areas where the two parties differ in opinion or both score low.
The best of both worlds
The downside of the online health check is that personal recommendations or explanations are not possible or difficult to include. The third way to conduct a health check is to combine the best of both: a larger group of participants will participate in the online health check while a small subset of key people (e.g. the alliance managers, some project leaders and the executive sponsors) is being interviewed for a more in-depth analysis.
An outside-in view
Time is often a constraint that prevents teams from performing proper health checks. A good fourth way to conduct a health check is to involve an independent third party who will run an objective outside-in health check for you. This outside party will organize the health check, invite the participants for the online survey and conduct the personal interviews with the key stakeholders. The findings will be compiled and presented to you and your counterpart with a recommended action plan.
Now is the time to plan your next health check: I have room to perform 3 more outside-in alliance health checks these summer months. Your alliance can be one of them! So, send me an email to open the conversation.
In the mean time: enjoy your week, it can be the first towards improved alliance performance!
Talk to you soon!
.Some additional reading: