Strategic Partnerships: A business model blind spot?

I’ve been working on the Partnership Canvas over the last weeks, prototyping and testing it to make a seamless fit as a strategy tool with the Business Model Canvas.

Particularly, I’ve been looking into the whole experience of the strategic conversation on partnerships. When do people start raising questions on partnerships, what do they do to makes sense of their options, how do they select, engage, and negotiate with partners? During this research I also performed some search terms analytics in Google trends using important key words relating to strategic partnerships. The following (surprising) graph showed up:

Interest in strategic partnership related key words Source: Google Trends
Interest in strategic partnership related key words Source: Google Trends

Apparently interest in strategic partnerships is in decline, even though interest in business models is on the rise. This is surprising, because phenomena like channel partnering, and sharing resources are quite common business innovation phenomena, but maybe not as common as I might think. Could this imply that we’re still underutilising the potential of the partnership building block to design more robust business models?

I have a hunch that partnerships are a blind spot on the business design radar. From my experience in conducting business model workshops, partnerships are likely thrown into the equation but rarely seriously addressed. We want to have better conversations about partnerships. Especially, we want to know what the potential is of a partnership, even before it has been negotiated and implemented. That is why I’m building a partnership canvas add-on tool to the business model canvas: a tool for partnership prototyping to help improve the strategic conversation on linking partnering business models together.


Interested to learn more about using the Partnership Canvas for transformative business collaboration?
Check out our upcoming Partnership Design Masterclasses

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