Post by Mary Adams: In the intangible capital version of Joni Mitchell’s lyric, it’s sometimes easiest to understand how intangible capital works by illustrating what happens when it’s “gone.” This month, I’ll describe the second* of these called “The Lone Rangers.”
Teams or companies with this syndrome go it alone when they could or should be leveraging external partners. Instead of reaching out and tapping into the wisdom of customers, partners and suppliers, they insist on figuring everything out themselves. They keep all their work processes internal and don’t want to lose control…even when an external solution is not core to their own business and when the external partner has much better knowledge and processes. Lone Rangers usually have a weak brand. Examples of this include:
- The software company that, despite selling into hospitals that have as many as 100 different software packages across their organizations, can’t figure out how to partner with other vendors
- The web marketing company that gets distracted from its core mission by building software tools rather than using the best-of-breed tools already available in its market.
- The services company that grows exclusively by word of mouth and doesn’t find a way to market and sell beyond this network of people who know the company directly.
- The temporary staffing company who doesn’t respond when clients keep asking to pay them for what should be a new services offering.
One of the core messages of intangible capital is that knowledge is a shared resource. The reason we focus on relationship capital is that tapping into smart customers and knowledgeable suppliers (and sharing your knowledge with them) can be a huge multiplier for your organization. Decisions on relationship capital–to insource or outsource, to share or protect, to help yourself by helping others–can make a huge difference in how smart and how competitive your company becomes.
Who are the partners that would help you best serve your customers? Are you building relationships with them or watching them from afar? Are you creating a two-way street with your customers and partners to cement your relationship? Don’t go it alone when you can build a stronger company by working more effectively with your external partners.