It’s no secret that Schneider Electric is a big fan of strategic alliances. Perhaps you’ve read previous blog posts on the topic by my colleague Tony Despirito, such as this one on how partnerships add value to IT projects.
In my role as VP of Global Strategic Alliances, I see the power of partnerships every day and we work hard to make sure our alliances bear fruit for all concerned – most importantly, our customers. One of the ways we do that is by participating in the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP), which is all about helping organizations get better at managing their alliances.
I’ve been involved with ASAP on behalf of Schneider for nearly 10 years now and I’ve seen great value in learning about best practices in alliance management from other members, aspiring to those best practices and generally trying to raise our visibility in the alliance world. For years we’ve also been sending a team to the annual ASAP Global Alliance Summit where we attend lots of breakout sessions, panels, and keynote addresses and generally network with other alliance professionals to learn more about how to create effective alliances.
On the last night of the event ASAP hosts an awards dinner and recognizes certain companies in a number of categories. Last year at our annual team meeting we decided our alliance program had come far enough that we should submit nominations for two awards, namely the Innovative Alliance Best Practice and Alliances for Corporate Social Responsibility.
At the awards dinner early this month, we were honored to accept the 2013 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards in both of those categories. ASAP is all about sharing best practices, so to win an award you have to demonstrate not only that you’re following best practices, but that you’re willing to share them with others. That’s what I always encourage my team to do, so it was gratifying to see they had taken the message to heart, stepped up, shared their considerable knowledge and were now gaining recognition for it.
A couple of folks in particular were instrumental in earning the Innovative Alliance Best practice award: Kim Tremblay, Senior Director of Global Alliance Management and Candice Kyzer, Marketing Manager, Global Strategic Alliances. Their winning submission centered about our social media efforts, including this blog as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, all of which have been effective in helping us spread the word about our alliance efforts and gain visibility. Kim and Candice shared their experiences in how these different platforms play off one another in an ASAP Summit session titled, “What’s the Buzz? How the Smart Use of Social Media can Accelerate Alliance Culture.”
I can tell you that one piece of that puzzle is getting lots of folks on board, and Jennifer Wendt and her team have done a great job at getting folks throughout Schneider to do lots of blogging and Tweeting, and generally help make Kim and Candice shine. Tony Despirito is one example of someone who has really taken to social media, offering up blog posts and Tweets on various topics and from his travels around the globe.
Kim and Candice have been on the alliance team for some time now. Knowing what they’re capable of, I was certainly gratified but not at all surprised that they should take home the ASAP award. The Corporate Social Responsibility award was another story entirely.
The project for which Schneider Electric won that award has to do with the Schneider Electric “BipBop Program,” for Business, Innovation & People at the Base of the Pyramid. BipBop is all about trying to deliver electricity to the 1.3 billion people on the planet who don’t currently have access to it.
One goal of the program is to train 100,000 unemployed people in developing nations to become electricians by the year 2014. Pere Huguet, a Senior Project Manager who is part of Schneider’s Leadership Development Program, was part of a team challenged with finding ways to increase the investment in the program to help us meet that goal.
Pere thought partnerships would be a good way to raise more funds. At his request, in 2011 I spent about an hour on the phone with him, sharing some ideas about alliance best practices that I thought might be useful in his efforts. Clearly that call was just one of many calls Pere made, as in a span of just 8 months he and his team identified 88 potential partners, had 28 discussions about partnerships, developed 11 proposals and ultimately signed 5 contracts with new partners.
Those partners added €1 million (about $1.3 million) in value to the BipBop Program. That was rewarding to say the least, especially for such a great cause.
I’m not bringing all this up just to toot Schneider’s own horn (although I do like to give recognition to folks who so richly deserve it). Rather, it’s to make the point that we are committed to excellence in alliance management. That should give customers peace of mind that when we come in with a joint proposal with one of our partners, you can be assured we’ll work together effectively and ultimately deliver a project that neither of us could’ve executed as well (or at all) on our own. That’s the whole idea behind alliances: to create value together beyond what any one partner can deliver alone. It’s an idea Schneider has been living for years – and now we’ve got some awards to prove our commitment to it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a big “thank you” to the ASAP community that many of us at Schneider have learned so much from over the years. Special thanks go out to folks at IBM, Cisco and SAS, and to the consultants who have provided trainings and taught us best practices, including Norma Watenpaugh at Phoenix Consulting Group, Lorin Coles at Alliancesphere, plus Jeff and Jan Twombly at Rhythm of Business. Through our continued involvement in ASAP, we will try to pay forward what you’ve taught us.