partnership-526416_640THIS WEEK I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality face-to-face time with one of my key partners.  It was the best investment I could have possibly made in defining the future course of our partnership.

On the surface, the work we were doing was about tasks and projects and how this would add value to both of our companies.

The greater joy, though, came from our understanding of each others’ values and goals.  Despite having worked together for five years, we each learned a great deal by meeting up in person and taking substantial time to talk about that non-task stuff.

You might think that was tangential and a waste of time.  But it absolutely wasn’t, and in fact will form the powerful core for our future work together

Our overall mission aren’t identical.  If that was the case, we should probably combine businesses.  And in fact I work with them precisely because they have a different mission, which produce different skills and capabilities.

Instead, the power comes from having aligned values, then working together toward shared goals and coordinating our tasks.  So spending time on the values is critical to the relationship – for the same reason that aligned values are essential to a marriage.

This came up in another discussion I had last night as well, with a person who is trying to establish a direction and purpose for a group of people who have been well connected with each other but the future is uncertain.

The group needs to have some kind of shared purpose or vision, but it’s murky what that might be.

The path forward is to start with each person’s needs of the group.  If there’s a significant overlap of those needs, then a group purpose will emerge.

But as it turns out, conflict has arisen because of a difference in values between the individuals.  So at some point – soon – they’re going to have to have a discussion around that.  And they’ll have to figure out whether those value differences get in the way of the group purpose.

The values don’t have to be identical or even highly similar.  They just have to be consistent with whatever agreement that they’ve made to have a shared purpose.

The same is true for your business.  Don’t expect or demand that your employees become clones of you.  But DO explore whether each employees’ values contribute to the success of your business, or get in the way.  Many values will be neutral, with no impact one way or the other.

And that’s the joy of the diversity of humanity.