The 7th of 10 Things Nobody Tells Entrepreneurs

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Business and Professional Practice

Collaborations, Partnerships,


and Marriage . . .



When two people in business or professional practice agree all of the time, one of them is not necessary.

Things that functionfrom engines to entrepreneurial (doctors included) ventures– need friction. But it appears that just as many people seem not to distinguish clearly between assertiveness and aggressiveness, as those who fail to keep friction and arguing or temper tantrums separate. (Yes, I once worked with a short-fused surgeon who threw scalpels!)

This collaborative partnership subject emerged during an invigorating get-acquainted discussion I had this week with fellow LinkedIn contact, Robin Standlee, an organizational transformation specialist whose company, C-Level Consultants, LLC. is a collaborative partnership organization that works with entrepreneurs and nonprofits.

She pointed out that the strength of collaborative partnerships has a great deal to do with the care and attention given to defining relationship parameters. Clearly defining role responsibilities encourages partners to feel freer and function more productively. Leadership is the ultimate product.

Working with many partnership entities over time (and actually being one for 25 years) has allowed me a unique perspective on these kinds of work arrangements. I have seen partners scream, threaten and throw things at one another — even a fistfight once between two brothers! From surgical group practices and hospitals to IT, foodservice, transportation, and HVAC companies, no enterprise is immune.

The bottom line is that partnering courtships and honeymoons may flutter hearts and become engulfed in bird tweets and floating flower petals, but the realities that test every marriage will surely come to the surface once a relationship settles in. Defining clearly what to expect and who will do what and what will be jointly agreed to —the marriage contract— is critical to ensure business and professional growth.

When you’re serious about joining forces with another person or entity, the only way to make certain that everyone involved will stay involved, that healthy assessments are met with healthy counter-assessments (in other words, that honest and straightforward critiquing and constructive alternative thinking is encouraged) is to agree on a strong operating platform.

COLLABORATION ARTICULATION = Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. When the glitter goes away, will your partners still stand tall?

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