When it comes to comics, the Hulk is right behind Dr. Strange on my “Absolute Favorite Heroes” list, and here’s (one of the many reasons) why: At all costs, and without a doubt, he is the strongest creature of them all. But he also has a seriously crippling dark side and, as Bruce Banner’s alter ego, he is a nightmare of a partner. This is where my Hulk adoration fails me; Banner and the Hulk are the worst team ever! Sure, Hulk knows what he needs to do to stay alive and strong no matter what, but where does Banner really fit into the mix? In spite of his mind blowing intelligence, Hulk is just too powerful and eventually Banner gives up, drifts away, and the Hulk is the last one standing (read Hulk: The End. I dare you not to cry).
Their less than amicable relationship brings us back to this month’s theme of joint ventures, because, unlike Banner, you get the chance to choose who will give you that superhero edge. Obviously you want someone who adds strength to your business presence, but how can you tell if you’re getting the right vibe or a Hulk? Here are some key traits to look for in your joint venture partner:
The Avengers of 2012 lied . . . While New York City is being demolished, good old Banner rides up on a motorcycle to save the day! In complete control of his Hulk-y side, he goes along with Cap’s plan and then joins up with the rest of the gang for shawarma once it’s all said and done. In the comic versions, most of the Hulk-Banner relationship is filled with angst, anxiety, and a whole lot of anger. That teamwork was a recent development in comic cannon, and for most of their story, Hulk refers to Banner as “that puny weakling in the picture.”
In joint ventures, never be the puny weakling and never be the Hulk. You want a partner who compliments your practices and respects the way you do business. Look for another enterprise that shares your values and will devote the same level of commitment to the partnership itself. While it’s always a good idea to surround yourself with people you can learn from, make sure there is balance in that growth potential as well . . . so you don’t end up standing on the sidelines.
Hulk just wants to be left alone. He says it over, and over, and over again, demolishing entire cities to make his dream of isolation come true. While any business with the same aim would be an utter failure, you want your joint venture partner to have a similar level of connections to facilitate growth on both sides. If your client lists are several hundred strong, while a potential partner is just topping 150, it may not be worth the investment in time or resources to continue the relationship.
True, there are mitigating factors to the visibility of some enterprises, but that extra gap in productivity and reach may negate any potential gains you stand to receive. As cheesy as it may sound, you offer more than you think. We tend to undervalue ourselves and, by default, our businesses–which can be reflected in the potential partners you seek. Even if it pushes you outside of your comfort zone, you might want to think about approaching businesses you consider to be higher up on the ladder of success.
While Banner’s genius is renowned and respected, Hulk is a terror. Rage and anger vs. brilliance and self-assuredness—you would never pair the two together outside of a comic book, and you should be wary of the same mismatch in potential joint venture partnerships as well. At their core, your JV partner should share the same level of integrity as you, without exception! This goes beyond a handful of reviews and requires a good look at the inner workings of how the business functions.
How do their clients understand the objectives and mission they say they promote? What do their happy and disappointed customers have to say about their experiences? How do the employees honestly view management and respond to the demands of growth or the challenge of attrition? These are difficult metrics to measure, and nowhere near as easy to gauge as repute is for our comic book friends, but nonetheless, they’re essential to understand fully before entering into any level of joint venture.
While you’re working together, your aims are ultimately the center of your universe, and that’s the way it should be. Keep the lines of communication wide open before and after closing the deal, building upon a positive working relationship. Stay flexible, but make clear what elements you are unwilling or unable to bend on. Above all, remember that every partnership will have some bumps in the road. When you work through them collaboratively you’ll be far better able to smash the competition, together.