Is Your Mental Model Helping You Develop a Collaborative Ecosystem?

Some of our old mental models are holding us back and keeping us from effectively working together, selling more together, and creating a positive future.

We’re hearing a lot about the value of collaborative partnership ecosystems. The trends towards partnerships go way beyond the old ways of thinking about a ‘partner’ and lie far outside the scope of the traditional Partner Manager role.

As we look at bigger picture strategy, we can see that some of our old mental models are holding us back. These models can keep us from effectively working together, selling more together, and creating a positive future.

Let’s look a little closer at mental models. 

I don’t know about you…but I find that I can use all the help I can get in this area. There are some sneaky beliefs, you know, the ones that lurk in the back of the shadows and I deny ever existing.


One Way of Thinking

Before we dive into this, let me just say, a mental model is simply one way of thinking. It may be the way we’ve practiced, grown comfortable with, and even believe is ‘Right.’ However, it can also be that the model may be inherently flawed—even if we’ve thought a certain way for years, or decades,.

Having a misaligned mental model doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean that you are doomed to always think this way. And, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to look at the model in the light of day.

In fact, looking at your mental models is a sign of bravery, courage, and true leadership. 

Ethicore is one group that helps organizations, NGOs, and companies investigate their mental models. They offer a 5-step framework to explore how a mental model influences a sense of purpose and drives positive behaviors. 

It’s an inspiring way to approach the entire field of strategic partnerships. I like this blueprint because it starts from the inside and moves out. Kind of like the ripple effect you see when tossing a stone into a pond. It’s not just the initial action. It’s an ongoing ripple that affects you, your team, your partners, and your customers.

Let’s take a look at the 5 steps for evaluating mental models and creating ones that are truly functional. These are my interpretations, personal observations, and musings.


Step One: What’s Your Current Mindset?

In talking with sales professionals, this is sure to ignite some fire-y conversation. Many people who are in small companies have beliefs about corporations. 

“They are just after profit.”

“They will eat us for lunch.”

“They are trying us out in a partnership – but they really want to see if it’s worthwhile to buy us.”

On the other hand, many professionals in corporations have beliefs about start-ups.

“They are full of themselves.”

“They don’t have any processes and procedures in place.”

“They don’t have a proven and tested business model.”

It’s easy to see that these mental models can pose hindrances, obstacles, and misinterpretations from the get-go. Are they rooted in fact? Are they based in proof? Are they the result of evidence? 

Or are they like old bricks in an ancient backpack? Just heavy stuff that’s making it even harder to go for a hike on new terrain?


Step Two: What Is A New Purposeful Mindset?

In looking at strategic partnerships, it helps to ask different questions. It may also help to start from an entirely different premise. Such as, “what do we need to deliver our purpose?”

If you and your strategic partner are serving your target customer from different angles, you’ll be looking at ways to provide value. To purposefully create a new model, you’ll ask questions such as:

“How can we understand our customers’ problems?”

“How can we provide exceptional value?”

“How can our partnership make our customer’s life easier and simpler?”

You’ll be looking for solutions that can only emerge from working together. This is a radical shift from pointing fingers, mistrusting, and focusing on power differences.


Step Three: Build Systems Based On Priorities

The exact specifics of the systems or framework vary from organization to organization. You may find that using a purpose-driven mindset, you’ve got a host of initiatives to support priorities and achieve your desired outcomes.

Amongst these, many sales organizations find that it’s essential to have organization-wide systems to:

    • Manage data for making informed decisions
    • Structure reliable processes for making warm introductions
    • Share success stories in fun, timely and relevant ways
    • Train new hires and experienced staff in new partnership development skills
    • Get frequent and informal input from senior leaders
    • Share product knowledge across strategic partners
    • Create systems for organization-wide input on trends


Step Four: Demonstrate New Partner-Positive Behaviors

You may be familiar with the phrase: ‘walk-the-talk.’ That’s exactly what this step entails. It’s all well and good to have a partner strategy outlined in an official document. But that’s not going to necessarily transform daily behavior.

In many organizations, people are looking to the CEO, and C-suite leaders to model behaviors. An informal chat with the CEO is likely to do more good than a memo from on high. A partnership meeting with cross-functional teams will have positive ripple effects across an organization. 

Active communication amongst partners might include virtual meetings, live story sharing, video clips, and interviews of successful sales.


Step Five: Celebrating and Sharing

In the last year, we’ve all had a dose of social isolation. Now, more than ever, it’s helpful to get together to celebrate and share. 

You may want to think outside the box in terms of sharing. Friends and families are part of the picture – often wondering what their spouses and partners have been doing, while working long nights or weekends. 

Gathering together over a casual picnic, work success, or goal achievement can help the wider circle of people celebrate the rewards of all the hard work. 

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts about mental models? What tips would you like to share that help you create a purposeful model? What do you do to foster collaboration in partnerships?


Sum Up

Developing a collaborative mindset starts by investigating your mental models. This affects success at every level of an organization: individuals, teams, organization, partners, and customers. 

By actively investigating mindsets, you and your partners can transform outdated mental models and create new ones. This is sure to create a positive ripple effect.

With a collaborative mental model, you can join successful businesses that are shaping the market and realizing significant revenue potential. Partnership Co-Selling is how you can virtually qualify B2B sales opportunity. You can use this to boost sales, expand your network, and grow profitability.

Using a platform like CoSell is the simplest way to get your sales team on board. CoSell is a robust platform that makes it easy and fast to automate and scale collaborative co-selling across sales teams. 

If you’d like to explore how partnership co-selling can help you and your team boost sales and win major clients fast - check out our selection of free eBooks.

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