Defining partnership intent

When you think you have an idea for an innovation that will really propel your business forward, you always wonder: will we serve our customers in the best way if we do it all ourselves? What do you weigh-in in order to decide whether you can best make, buy, or ally? I often get asked such questions about the point at which it makes sense to consider a partnership. Here’s the framework I use to answer those questions.

The partnership intent puzzle
The partnership intent puzzle

These are the essential 4 factors you need to consider, to determine whether you’re in the most suitable position to launch an innovation yourself. You have to look at these factors like a kind of a puzzle. If you answer “no” to one of these questions, then one of the pieces is missing. You’ll need to seriously consider reaching out to other parties to obtain it. Use your knowledge about the market, to underpin the decision whether or not you’re in the best possible to position to do it all yourself.


  1. Figuring out your partnership intent is important. It will help you define what your priority is for partnering, as well as what you would require from a partner.
  2. Once you’ve established your intent, then start the work on designing your partnership options. For this you can use the partnership canvas.

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