16 Aug 2010
Guy Kingston and John Richards – that famous business podcasting partnership – discuss
the ins and outs of going into business with a partner.
It seems that to be truly one of the most successful business people in the world
you do need to have a great business partner. Just consider these:
The Art and Science of Partnership
It is often said that whether a partnership works or not depends on whether there
is the right chemistry between the partners.
Yet partnership has more in common with physics than chemistry.
In human relationships, as in physics, opposites tend to attract. There are, of
course, situations in both where this does not happen, but it is easy to demonstrate
how a positive charge will repel a positive charge and a negative a negative – just
as people who are too much alike will each want the same thing and will fall out
over which of them gets it.
The most successful partnerships succeed because the partners have different characters
and different objectives, so that each has his own role in the partnership and is
content with it.
There is simply no point in going into partnership with a clone of yourself. The
clone brings nothing new to the partnership. He has all of your weaknesses and his
only strengths are those you have already. Instead of covering your weaknesses,
he will reinforce them. He may extend your work capacity, but at the price of desiring
the same rewards as you. This might boost the efficiency of the partnership in the
short term, but must ultimately tear it apart.
Dr Evil and Mini-Me were always destined to betray and destroy each other: such
was their nature and the nature of their relationship.
We are forced to rely on the Austin Powers reference, rather than something more
serious and business-related, because it is often hard for outsiders to see how
real partnerships operate in practice. It is wisely said that no one knows what
goes on behind closed doors in a marriage, and the same is true of a business partnership.
In any case, the most celebrated, as well as some of the most successful, partnerships
are known throughout the world because they were up there on the big screen: Laurel
and Hardy, Crosby and Hope, Tom and Jerry...
Of these, the first is the most famous and the best example of how different characters
filling different roles complement each other to produce the elusive “synergy” –
where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and two plus two equals five.
On screen, the Ollie character is convinced of his own cleverness. The Stan character,
while not altogether convinced by his friend, accepts that he is even less intelligent
and so he goes along with Ollie. The characters need each other: Ollie needs someone
even stupider than himself to impress and Stan needs someone slightly less unintelligent
than himself to tell him what to do. So the partnership serves the needs of both
and both serve the partnership. There would be no comedy, and so partnership, if
both were trying to be clever or both were passive.
Off-screen, the roles were reversed. Stan Laurel was a very intelligent man and
a consummate professional, always thinking up new ideas for scripts and routines.
Oliver Hardy, while by no means as foolish as his screen persona, was an amiable,
easy-going sort, who would rather play golf than think about work.
It is pleasant to be able to record that the two men were great friends in real
life, not least because Hardy never meddled with Laurel’s script ideas and Laurel
ever interfered with Hardy’s golf.
© Agincourt Productions