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In This Issue

A Message from Stephen

Greetings and welcome to the October 2002 issue of the Partnering Intelligence Newsletter, a monthly newsletter for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc. (

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Write to me anytime at Your feedback is important to me.

Last month's issue focused on how to build a partnering culture within your organization--and create a unique marketplace advantage. To read or review that issue, go to

This month's issue looks at how you can strengthen your company's culture by turning it into a knowledge- and information-sharing powerhouse.

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Creating an Information-Sharing Culture

We've been hearing a lot in the news lately about the need for our government's intelligence agencies to share information. A recent congressional report cited the lack of information-sharing as a major factor behind the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

To prevent future terrorist attacks, federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies are forming historic collaborations. At the core of these new partnerships is a free exchange of knowledge and ideas about suspected terrorist activities. Many of these agencies will be talking with each other for the first time. Previously, such sharing wasn't part of their organizations' culture.

Stuck in Smokestack Mode

To be successful, businesses, too, must create a culture within their organization that promotes the exchange of knowledge and ideas among individuals and departments. Achieving that free flow of information requires letting go of the 19th-century industrial business model (where wealth is built on tangible commodities) and embracing the new 21st-century information-age model (where wealth is built on gathering information about new ways of satisfying customer needs).

Unfortunately, too many businesses today still look--internally, at least--like the old industrial, or "smokestack," industries. Their "smokestacks" are the isolated "silos" that make up individual departments within their organization such as marketing, engineering, or human resources. These departments act independently, without sharing information or ideas, whether strategic, tactical, or technological. As a result, the entire organization suffers.

So how do you create a healthy information-sharing culture within your organization, one that will give your company a competitive edge? By developing a better understanding of why information-sharing is so important to businesses today; of what causes internal information-sharing to shut down; and of how a systems approach is crucial to getting the information flowing again.

Information Is Exponential

One of the powerful truths about information is that it is exponential. In other words, if you have information and I have information, together our separate pieces of information can equal more than two.

Think of it in terms of a jigsaw puzzle. One piece of the puzzle doesn't give you much of a clue as to what the puzzle is about. But when you put two pieces together, you begin to see the pattern emerge. That pattern then leads you to the next piece that needs to be added, and the next. The more pieces of the puzzle you put together, the more quickly you're able to envision the whole picture and know with even greater precision how each piece fits into the overall design.

Business information works exactly the same way. One piece is only a starting point. With each new element of information, you're able to see more clearly the emerging patterns and move more quickly and precisely to make wise--and profitable--business decisions.

The free flow of information within your business can give your company a powerful competitive edge. But--and this is very important--your employees will only share their knowledge and ideas if you've created an internal culture that allows them to do so.

When the System Becomes Poisoned

One of the biggest obstacles that leaders must overcome is seeing their business as a series of single events. Businesses are more like living organisms. The health of that organism depends on how employees interact with each other. Without good interaction, employees will not share information--and the company will suffer.

Say, for example, that a conflict occurs between two managers. The company's leadership expects the managers to resolve the conflict in a "businesslike" manner and to focus on the "job." But this type of "brush-the-problem-under-the-carpet" approach doesn't usually end the conflict. As a result, the tension between the two managers filters down through the organization and poisons the company's environment, inhibiting the sharing of important information not only between the two individuals, but also between their respective teams.

Such a seemingly small episode can seriously harm an organization, especially if the conflict is allowed to be resolved using a win/lose outcome.

Let's take a closer look at how the organization is harmed: When people are in conflict, they are rarely comfortable revealing their feelings about the underlying issues that led to the conflict. Nor do they feel comfortable giving others feedback, especially if the other person is in a position of power. Trust within the organization quickly diminishes, making any future interaction between the parties even more difficult.

So a small conflict can grow like crabgrass, infiltrating an organization and creating an environment that shuts down communication and the sharing of ideas. Remember: In the Information Age, information is the raw material that gives businesses their competitive edge.

Each day without open internal communication is a day of lost business opportunity. Why? Because today's news is tomorrow's history. Knowledge and information have a shelf life, and if theyre not used while fresh, they quickly go stale.

If you fail to communicate and use information while it's relevant, you will lose the advantage that the information offered you. That's why it's so imperative that your organization's environment be receptive to building the kinds of internal partnerships that allow information to flow freely and without inhibition.

A Systems Approach

The importance of creating internal partnerships has never been more critical. In the past, when teams of employees worked in conjunction with each other on assembly lines, they really didn't need to share high levels of knowledge. They were challenged with just working on a task together.

In today's information- and knowledge-based enterprises, the level of sharing information is more intimate, requiring people to have higher levels of interpersonal skills.

Those skills don't come naturally to everyone, as most managers know. Nor is there only one skill that people need to learn for internal partnerships to work.

Ensuring a free flow of information within an organization requires a systems approach. You can't work on only one problem area--improving employee feedback, for example--without also working on others, such as building trust and developing comfort with change. Information will stop flowing unless all areas of the system are addressed.

That's where Partnership Continuum's Six Partnering Attributes™ can be of tremendous help. Developing these interconnected attributes--Self-Disclosure and Feedback, a Win-Win Orientation, Ability to Trust, Comfort with Change, Comfort with Interdependence, and Past/Future Orientation--can enable your organization to resolve its internal conflicts in a healthy, positive way.

The results can be stunning: A free, open flow of information and ideas within your organization--and a new and exciting competitive edge.

To learn more about how the Six Partnering Attributes™ can help your organization develop a more successful internal culture, go online or call toll-free:

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Increasing Your Ability to Self-Disclose: An Exercise

Self-disclosure can be risky. We fear rejection, criticism, and our own vulnerability. We worry about the potential loss of or damage to relationships. In fact, failure to share information as it relates to a partnership is more likely to damage a relationship than self-disclosure.

Think about a partnership you are currently engaged in. Ask yourself:

To help you decide if it's worth it to you to offer this information, do a mental risks/rewards analysis. Ask yourself:

Finally, ask yourself:

This exercise can help you prepare for any situation that involves self-disclosure.

"Increasing Your Ability to Self-Disclose: An Exercise" is adapted from The Partnering Intelligence Fieldbook by Stephen M. Dent and Sandra M. Naiman (Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing, 2002), pp. 44-45. © 2002 by Stephen M. Dent.

To order, go online or call toll-free:

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Partnering in the Fight Against Bioterrorism

Concern over the small, but very real, threat of a smallpox or other bioterrorism attack in the United States has created a strong and immediate need for government agencies across the country to forge deeper--and sometimes new--partnerships.

"Bioterrorism planning and preparedness involves many levels of government on the federal, state, county, and local level," says Neal Holtan, MD, medical director of the Minnesota Institute of Public Health and Partnership Continuum's director of health care industry practice. "Many of these groups have had contact with each other before, but they haven't been called upon to partner to the degree that they are now."

When floods hit an area, for example, public safety and public health agencies work together. "But it's really a public safety issue," says Holtan. "The public health people are just there to step in should their expertise become necessary."

In the event of a bioterrorist attack, however, public safety and public health personnel are going to have to work very closely together. Should a smallpox outbreak occur, for example, hospitals and clinics will need to work with law enforcement to make sure the public receives swift and safe access to the vaccine.

Other partnerships also need to be formed, Holtan adds, including those between public agencies and businesses. "Many businesses already know what happens when there's a natural disaster--things like panic buying, business closings, and disruption of commerce," says Holtan. "A bioterrorist attack may cause even wider problems."

In such a situation, having strong partnering skills will be essential to working with government agencies, other businesses, and with the public. "Businesses will need such attributes as cooperation, interdependence, and trust," says Holtan.

Dr. Holtan has recently written about how community-based alliances based on the concept of partnering can help prevent community alcohol and drug problems. You can read his article on our Web site:
Click on "Partners in Prevention--How Partnering Intelligence Helps Prevention Specialist and Physicians Prevent Alcohol and Drug Problems in Communities" to download this article in PDF format.

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A New Partnership with the Business Development Institute

Stephen Dent recently became a founding member of the Business Development Institute (BDI), an organization with offices in New York, New Jersey, and California whose mission is "to help companies and professionals accelerate their ability to capitalize on partnerships and strategic relationships as a means for achieving business growth."

Members include prominent executives in Global 2000 corporations and select influential leaders who share an interest in developing new business opportunities for their companies by leveraging personal relationships and expanding their networks.

BDI offers a diverse schedule of networking and educational events to its members including seminars, conferences, leadership breakfasts, professional workshops and online seminars.

To learn more about BDI:

What Our Partners Are Saying

Here's some of what our corporate clients (Xcel Energy, NASA, eBenX, and others) are saying about our Building Smart Partners Training:

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On the Topic

In "Using Thought Partnerships to Build Your Brand," Daniel D. Elash, Ph.D., and James R. Long, Ph.D., suggest that thought partnerships--partnerships formed to facilitate and further our combined thinking--are essential to business success.

Read it online:!ddebrand.html

In "More Tips for Internal Customer Service," Scott Miller, vice president of Kirk Miller & Associates Inc., presents three ways to keep your employees happy--because satisfied employees mean satisfied customers. All three relate to information-sharing.

Read it online:,4621,300834,00.html

News and Announcements

Our redesigned Web site is up and running. Visit soon for monthly updates, new navigational tools, revised course descriptions, online course registration, archives, special features, and more.

The Partnering Intelligence Fieldbook: Tools and Techniques for Building Strong Alliances for Your Business, which I wrote with Sandra Naiman, is now available. Featuring more than 100 assessments, surveys, checklists, and partnering techniques, this is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve his or her partnering skills.

Check our Web site for details:

Mark your calendar for the Spring Building Smart Partners™ Training Seminar, to be held March 16-28, 2003, at the beautiful Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas. Save 15% off the fee if you register before January 1, 2003.

For more information, or to reserve your space at the training and receive your discount, call toll-free:

Do you need a keynote speaker to talk about alliances and partnerships? For the past three years, I've been giving exciting and informational talks at conferences and meetings around the world on creating great partnerships and alliances. Several of my upcoming appearances are listed and described below.

To learn more about my topics, or to arrange for me to speak at one of your events, call toll-free:

I'll be making the keynote speech and leading workshops on "Building Trust" and "Creating Win/Win Scenarios" at the JointSolutions Partner Summit Fall 2002, which will be held October 16-17 at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in Monterey, CA.

To learn more, contact Joan Staffen at Joint Solutions:
831-338-5030 x 206

On Thursday, October 24, I'll give a keynote speech on "Creating Value with Partners" to the Paper Stock Industry, a division of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry (ISRI), on Amelia Island, FL.

To learn more about the ISRI:

If you'd like to meet with me while I'm in the southeastern United States, call toll-free:

From November 21-22, I'll be presenting a workshop on Nonprofit/For-Profit partnerships at the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA.

To register for this event, contact the Bayer Center:

In January 2003, I'll be partnering with Marcus Evans, a worldwide executive training and event planning organization, to bring our world-class Partner Relationship Management training to Southeast Asia. I'll be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 6-7, and in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 9-10.

For more information, go to:

If you'd like to meet with me while I'm in Southeast Asia, call toll-free:

Also in January, I'll be giving the keynote speech at the WEMCO Annual Meeting, sponsored by the American Welders Society. The meeting will be held on January 16-17 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Hotel in La Jolla, CA.

To learn more about the American Welders Society:

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"The basic economic resource--the means of production--is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor. It is and will be knowledge."--Peter Drucker

"Knowledge is the fundamental factor--the major enabler--of enterprise performance."-- Karl M. Wiig

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Partnering Intelligence Newsletter is published monthly for clients and friends of Partnership Continuum, Inc. Copyright © 2002 by Partnership Continuum, Inc. All rights reserved.

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