When Judith Cadigan was looking for information on forging strategic alliances, we flagged a few good books for her ("Partner Power," September, [Article link]). A reader adds that three critical factors will increase the chances of forming a successful alliance:

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First, alliance partners have to share corporate culture. Differences in culture must be recognized not as right or wrong or as good or bad, but rather as nonthreatening differences that deserve mutual respect. The second factor is sharing values and beliefs. In other words, the measures we use to gauge each party's contribution to success must be understood and agreed upon by all. The third factor is sharing success. The structure of the deal must identify rewards that will make the relationship profitable for everyone. Too often, obscure or complex clauses in the agreement lead to misunderstandings and the deterioration of alliances even in the best of times. The more of your organization you share with your alliance partners, and vice versa, the greater the likelihood of success.

Kevin G. Coleman

Management Consultant

CSC Partners

Waltham, Mass.

Larry Phillips was looking for job-training programs for disabled people ("Ready, Willing, and Able," August, [Article link]). Here's another idea:

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I toured a wonderful facility called the Choices Center, in Port Chester, N.Y. (914-937-3454), a nonprofit multimedia computer center offering training and placement assistance to people with physical or learning disabilities. Give it a try.

Ed Fitzgerald

Weston, Conn.