Meme – Find a Partner

Exceptional innovation is seldom the product of just one heart. 

Bill Gates and Paul Allen met in high school and over the years collaborated, joining their skills and enthusiasm, until they had built 20th Century’s most successful software company.  They are not alone.  The list of innovative partnerships is impressive:

  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – Apple
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – Ice Cream
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright – Heavier than Air Flight
  • Bill Hewlett and David Packard – HP
  • Sam, Jack, Albert, and Harry Warner – Warner Bros. Studios.
  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Google

There is a reason for this.   Innovative action is hard to do by yourself.   Partnerships make effectively deal with some of innovation’s biggest challenges.  A partnership of unique skills but shared passion is:  

  • More Creative – Partnerships have a substantial creative advantage over lone wolf individuals. Different perspectives interact.   When ideas are challenged, more effective and original solutions results.   
  • More Talented – Problems and opportunities are wildly multi-disciplinary.  The best partnerships blend  compatible … but different … people, providing a portfolio of different skills and dispositions to use when confronting complex and changing challenges.
  • More Resilient – Creative change is a rollercoaster.  Partnership allows passion and enthusiasm to be shared and multiply.  Conversely partners can also help pull each other through individual moments of disappointment and frustration.
  • More Powerful – Trusted partners at the top provide senior level bandwidth.   Leveraging shared insights and vision, decisions can be made and actions taken without being constrained by a single person’s time and energy. 

Innovation works better when there is a close trusted team at the top.  Be careful of potential pitfalls.   You should both share a core vision.  Partners in innovation are close to being in a marriage.  Its important to be traveling in the same direction. 

At the same time, some of the greatest value from a partnership is lost if the individuals are clones of each other.  A great partnership brings together strong, but different, talents and perspectives.   


Don’t go it alone.   Find a fellow traveler. 

Good Reads: 

Brainstorming Questions

  • Can our project solve a critical problem for someone?   Do they know that?
  • With some tweaks, extensions, or reuse, are there other enterprise problems we can solve?
  • Can we use our project to step in and fill the gaps between other projects?
  • Are we listed as a critical dependency on the projects we integrate?
  • Will our timelines allow us to play the role of savior or connector on other people’s projects?  If not, can we pull pieces ahead that would do the job?
  • Who stands to gain glory and recognition from our project?  Can we convince them to make our success part of their organization’s official goal?

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