They are really the cornerstone of business profits, new jobs and rising incomes for people. And it is the only way the precious, life and business-sustaining resources of the planet will survive.
Putting together partnerships and company-making deals is more than just a press release and photo op. To really deliver huge results is complicated. Partners, while sharing some objectives, often have very different perspectives. They have pressures, needs and timelines that differ. They often change over the lifetime of making the deal and its execution.
Crafting ones that stick and produce near term results as well as longterm scalable breakthroughs need to be both simple and deliver benefits to all parties. Successful deal-making starts with listening to one another and respect. And ends with a relentless dedication to real impact- for the bottom-line and for people and communities.
Partnerships are what I have pioneered all my life. To create the plastics recycling infrastructure it started with a soap bottle Procter & Gamble sold to a person washing their family's clothes. Then the consumer threw it in a bin but only if a curbside recycling program existed and accepted plastic bottles. A processor then searched and had to find manufacturers to sell the material who in turn used post-consumer bottles to fabricate new products. Deals needed to be brokered all along the supply chain.
I have repeated this process hundreds of times from getting energy efficiency products in the utility supply chain to coaxing textbook publishers to let books be downloaded electronically when they preferred just to stop the inevitable march towards digital.
A business imperative colliding with innovation and often a public policy objective compels the alchemy.
Doing these partnership deals for years across many industries, while at USAID I oversaw 600 public private partnerships globally being created. These leveraged more than $1 billion dollars of investment.