Cultural Evolution

New software aims at strengthening relationships between strategic partners.

Anyone running a company copes with the challenge of getting groups of people from different business cultures to work together. But nowhere are the challenges greater, or the stakes higher, than in the case of strategic alliances between large and small companies, as witnessed by the long list of alliances that have failed. So we were interested to learn about Scorecard, a program being used by Genta, a young biotechnology company in San Diego, to help manage its partnership with Procter & Gamble.

Scorecard involves a two-part process. "The first part uses software," says Bill Bliss, Genta's chief operating officer, "in which people from both organizations are asked to rate numerically their own performance and that of their partner in a variety of areas. Think of it as an expanded performance appraisal in which people are defining expectations and the gap between those expectations and reality." Part two, alas, requires human intervention. In Genta's case, the intervention is provided by the program's developer, San Diego consultant Bob Littlewood, who gets the two groups together to discuss the ratings. "We applaud good performance, identify problems, and focus on those areas where, with greater cooperation, both organizations stand to profit," says Littlewood.

If you think all this sounds too simple to be of much real value, you aren't alone. "At first I was very skeptical," says Bliss. "But I've discovered that Scorecard introduces a very valuable discipline into relationships. We're so pleased with what it's done for our relationship with Procter & Gamble that we've started using it internally to get scientists and marketing people to talk to one another."

For more information about Scorecard, contact Bob Littlewood at 619-458-0030.

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Last updated: Feb 1, 1993

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