In an article about making business alliances work in the November HBR, authors Hughes and Weiss suggest a small number of principles that should guide alliance building.

The first suggests focusing less on defining the business plans and more on how you’ll work together.

People involved in the hundreds of failed alliances we have seen over the years have consistently pointed to breakdowns in trust and communication and the inability to resolve an inevitable succession of disagreements as the most common causes of failure. Better business planning was cited rarely—and more carefully crafted contracts almost never—as something that could have saved those alliances.

I would argue, of course, that this principle extends beyond business alliances and to effectiveness within organizations more broadly.

Jamie Notter