The business partner paradox

Simple yet difficult

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Let us be honest. Business partnering is not rocket science. Understand the needs of your internal customers and create value by delivering on their needs.

The concept of business partnering has been around for more than 20 years, yet most organization struggle to deliver on their aspirations. What is going on?

Business partnering is difficult, because it is ultimately about getting people to work in new ways – and changing behaviors is hard.

Many organizations tackle this by making business partnering quite scientific, elaborate and complex.

The problem is – it does not work. People still do the same.

The “secret” is to keep business partnering simple and practical and at the same time put in a lot of effort in enabling behavioral change in your company.

Many organizations want their controllers to have a business partnering mindset and aspire to build a business partnering culture.

Once a year, they gather controllers for a finance conference, share the latest poster and talk with great enthusiasm about how to make an impact.

Two weeks later, you will likely find everybody doing exactly what they did before.

You do not build mindset and culture by talking about it, but by acting differently.

Behavioral change is difficult – it starts with building new habits.

Start spending a day a month with the sales team and ask them how you can help them succeed (habits).

In the beginning it will be difficult, but over time you will do it without thinking about it (behaviors).

Likely you will receive positive feedback, which will change how you perceive your role (mindset).

As more and more people think like this, you slowly build a common way of working in your company (culture).

Change the world

One step at a time

https://businesspartneringinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/3.1.2b.png
Change the world

One step at a time

https://businesspartneringinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/3.1.2b.png

Many organizations want their controllers to have a business partnering mindset and aspire to build a business partnering culture.

Once a year, they gather controllers for a finance conference, share the latest poster and talk with great enthusiasm about how to make an impact.

Two weeks later, you will likely find everybody doing exactly what they did before.

You do not build mindset and culture by talking about it, but by acting differently.

Behavioral change is difficult – it starts with building new habits.

Start spending a day a month with the sales team and ask them how you can help them succeed (habits).

In the beginning it will be difficult, but over time you to it without thinking about it (behaviors).

Likely you will receive positive feedback, which will change how you perceive your role (mindset).

As more and more people think like this, you slowly build a common way of working in your company (culture).

It is a change journey

Take it seriously

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Business partnering is not a project – it is a long-haul requiring dedication and perseverance. Luckily, it is a lot of fun and with many pay-offs along the way.

A business partnering journey should be considered a change journey – you need to drive the change. Things do not happen by themselves.

We take inspiration from John P. Kotter’s “Leading change”.

Firstly, create the climate for change. As a leadership team, you should be able to explain why this is a high priority initiative.

Next, engage the organization. Empower them and help them succeed by giving them the right tools and support.

Finally, be persistent – build on your initial success and keep the ball rolling.

The easiest way to keep focus and momentum is to establish a program

There are several levers that enable successful business partnering.

Definition
Be specific about what business partnering is and what good looks like. Provide high impact tools and train the use of them.

Capabilities
Define critical capabilities for a business partner and be structured about how to develop and recruit for them.

Operating model
Business partnering is a team effort – design your roles to support collective impact. Clarify who is doing what and practice working accordingly.

Case for change
Quantify and report the desired and actual impact of your business partnering focus. Make sure to share and celebrate successes.

Tone from the top
Ensure visible executive support and support and empower mangers to “be the change”.

The building blocks

Step by step
to success

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The building blocks

Step by step
to success

https://businesspartneringinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/3.1.1-4-1.png

There are several levers that enable successful business partnering.

Definition
Be specific about what business partnering is and what good looks like. Provide high impact tools and train the use of them.

Capabilities
Define critical capabilities for a business partner and be structured about how to develop and recruit for them.

Operating model
Business partnering is a team effort – design your roles to support collective impact. Clarify who is doing what and practice working accordingly.

Case for change
Quantify and report the desired and actual impact of your business partnering focus. Make sure to share and celebrate successes.

Tone from the top
Ensure visible executive support and support and empower mangers to “be the change”.

Getting started

Is your foundation
in place?

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The most effective way to strengthen business partnering capabilities is through a structured learning and development program.

However, before initiating such a journey, there are a several foundational elements that must be in place.

We have created a check-list with questions that we recommend you ask yourself to check, whether your foundation for a business partnering journey is in place.

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