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If You Want to Predict the Future: You Have to Create the Future

Conventional wisdom holds that the future is difficult to predict. An unsettling prospect when Canada’s Innovation economy is all about competing for the future. And the future seems to arrive faster and faster every day.

Unconventional wisdom would say that if you want to predict the future, you have to create the future.

I have a poster in my office that quotes Carl Sandburg: “ Nothing happens unless it is first dreamed.”

Our CATA dream is for Canada to advance to number one ranking in innovation and competitive performance in the 21st century: growing into a prosperous, socially aware, competitive innovation nation fuelled by advanced technology enterprise and forward thinking executives.

One of the ways to create that bright future is through building strategic alliances, where we are know for leveraging and sharing resources to maximum benefit for all Canadians.

The Canadian paradox is that we are technologically advanced and we do have some of the best technology companies in the world. But we are a small country with a small market, living next door to the biggest consumer and maker of technology solutions in the world -- the USA.

Is there a “strategic alliance” choice? The answer is no. To grow we must strategically partner and align to reach global scale and organizational efficiency.

Alliance advantage can be used to leverage everything from R&D to distribution.

In an open-system world, the operating principle for organizations is that collaboration can be the key to competitiveness and success. Every time you collect air miles, every time you use a bank machine, every time you buy a coffee at Starbucks, you are helping companies compete through cooperation.

Organizations today can be fierce rivals in some markets and strategic allies in others.

Strategic alliances can help in two ways: accelerating innovation and boosting global reach. Partnerships can make you faster and more flexible to better anticipate, create and capture markets.

Let’s list some of the benefits of sharing:

  • reduced costs and risks;
  • access to needed technology and distribution channels;
  • opportunities to leverage resources, including talent;
  • faster acceptance of technology -- whether that is because your partner’s brand name adds credibility or opens global doors to markets;
  • allows you to establish and own standards in the market;
  • boosts opportunities to learn and build new competencies and best practices; and
  • increases investment and financial benefits.

There are many types of partnering relationships: licence, distribution, marketing and manufacturing agreements; subcontracting and tenders; R&D agreements; technology transfers; mergers and acquisitions; joint venture; OEM and technical support agreements and consortia.

A logical question to ask is what makes a successful alliance? The formula is the right partners; clear and mutually reinforcing objectives; clear definition of roles and responsibilities; and, good personal relationships between key individuals.

A Strategic Alliance Strategy starts with a strategic vision of your company. Then you must analyze the opportunities, identify potential partnerships and prioritize those potential relationships. It also means developing a trajectory for the partnership as well as exit strategies.

The challenge is to understand core competencies and then align yourself with organizations with complementary values and technologies. The strategy is to forge a series of ever-changing alliances that deliver a competitive edge and success. Ask yourself: to whom is my core competency a value added resource?

The bottom line in building Canada’s competitive innovation nation is that we can’t go it alone in an interconnected world, a maxim that applies to private and public sector organizations alike.

We need to be a leader in creating Canada’s strategic alliance culture.

About CATAAlliance
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The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) is Canada's One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group, crowdsourcing ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. (No Tech Firm Left Behind) Contact: CATA CEO, John Reid at