Executive Education Leadership

The science of potential partnerships selection2 min read

January 17, 2024 2 min read


The science of potential partnerships selection2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutesReading Time: 2 minutes

Project initiators often need to notice signs that a potential partner might have different goals. Misaligned intentions can result. It’s not just about attracting partners but also about managing the dynamics within the partnership ecosystem effectively. Professors from IMD, Robert Hooijberg and Jean-Louis Barsoux, in collaboration with Sameh Abadir, created a framework to assess potential partners across three dimensions: task-fit (capabilities and benefits), goal-fit (alignment of objectives), and relationship-fit (trust and commitment). This framework helps identify possible misalignments and devise strategies to address them. Please review the following inquiries to evaluate alignment:

Task Fit
• What pressing needs does your project address?
• Does the partner have unique capabilities?
• Can others come close to the required capability level?
• How will the partner benefit beyond financial gain?
• Is it possible to prevent unwanted involvement without alienation?
Goal Fit
• Does the partner understand the overall vision and inherent risks?
• Are their expectations realistic in terms of cost, time, and output?
• Do they exhibit flexibility and openness to new ideas?
• How can you effectively manage the level of their involvement?
Relationship Fit
• Is there a pre-existing trust with the partner?
• Does the partner have substantial experience in this domain?
• Can a less committed partner still positively influence the project trajectory?

A key strategy involves gathering diverse perspectives, especially from those not obliged to protect the leader’s interest. Influencing people is an art that requires a nuanced approach:
1. Stick to the facts, ensuring credibility and trust.
2. Utilize blue color language strategically to convey sincerity and urgency.
3. Balance the management of immediate and long-term impacts, ensuring sustainable and beneficial decisions in the grander scheme.
4. Move away from relying solely on arguments, understanding that belief in a vision often starts with the leaders themselves.


Professor Sameh Abadir, an expert in Leadership and Negotiation at IMD Business School, focuses on educating professionals in critical areas like negotiation, conflict management, crisis management, and effective leadership. Prior to joining IMD in 2018, he was an Adjunct Professor at INSEAD for 15 years. Sameh advises companies and runs workshops in English, French and Arabic. Professor Abadir was awarded the INSEAD Best Program Director and Best Professor awards in 2018. He advocates for emotionally intelligent teams in crisis management and believes in adapting leadership styles to modern, decentralized organizational structures.