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Beat the Gun With a Strategic Alliance

RaidersSwordThere’s a famous Indiana Jones scene that all finishers should remember when confronted with problems that get in the way of doing what you do best.

In this acclaimed scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, an archaeology professor named Indiana Jones has just survived an exhaustive and harrowing chase through the desert. Clutching his trusty leather whip, Indiana is now confronted by a menacing swordsman advancing on him on a blazing hot day in a Tunisian village. The troublemaker’s long curved blade glistens in the sun and actually makes sounds as it cuts through the air. But with a look of infinite fatigue and total disgust only Harrison Ford could create, Indiana pauses for a moment, then pulls out a hidden pistol and blows the bad guy away. End of scene.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an ace in the hole, I suggest you use it by all means. Otherwise you’ve got a fight on your hands you probably don’t want. Consider creating a strategic alliance with an ally who may have a better aim.


Let’s face it, we experience the most growth when confront the biggest monsters. A huge capital investment for equipment is a great example. You don’t know how you’re going to pay for the new coating line before you have it but once you do, you have no idea how you did without it. You do it and you grow.

Somewhere between letting your business grow organically over time and the culture-shocking experience of a merger/acquisition, lies another, much more, palatable option. A “strategic alliance” with a friendly ally can help a small shop tackle bigger battles with less ammunition. Done correctly the teaming can increase productivity, accelerate growth, increase revenue and perhaps most importantly, insure your business remains relevant longer. And you can do it much faster than either of the alternatives.

Look at it this way, if you see an opportunity but don’t feel like you’re up for the occasion, team up with some bigger guns who love hunting the same game. It’s a simple strategy that you learned on the playground as a kid to protect yourself from the bully.


Companies form alliances for many reasons. And, due in part to a growing and socially-connected world, the business model is trending. Technology, capabilities, distribution and overhead reduction probably top the list for the most common reasons to build an alliance.

Basically, a strategic alliance is a simple agreement between two or more parties who decide together to pursue a set of agreed upon objectives. Unlike a merger, each party in an alliance remains an independent organization. Each party asks of itself, “What’s in it for me?” They must believe that the potential benefit outweighs the challenges or the aggravations of doing nothing at all. And unlike a joint venture, there’s no new company to form or own or manage.

Here are 7 good reasons why alliances can be very strategic. They:

  1. Allow companies to grow quickly
  2. Help you face disruptive change or complexity
  3. Create potential competitive advantage
  4. Allow you the ability to share resources or expertise
  5. Facilitate new operational efficiencies
  6. Help you confront and access new technology and,
  7. Allow you to pursue new markets previously considered off limits.

Strategic alliances allow you to leapfrog challenges you might never conquer otherwise. Whether you’re in it for market dominance in the finishing industry or you believe it’s time to face your opponent head-on, your best move is to beat the gun with a strategic alliance that motivates you.


In filmmaking there are countless strategic alliances at work. During the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ford was actually suffering from dysentery after months of shooting in the heat. That bit of unexpected humor in the scene came not from the script nor director Steven Spielberg, but from the desperation of the actor. Ford’s desire to spend less time on another scene, and frankly, more time in a washroom, led to the script change that was ultimately worked into the film. Ford was the one who persuaded Spielberg to try the scene this much shorter way, “Let’s just shoot the sucker!” His pragmatism paid off for everyone and that kind of thinking can pay off for you as well.

Want to know more about ways to share goals? See “Collaboration—critical but attractive choices” at HIT Solutions website.

I welcome your comments, questions or more discussion.