For the past 11 years, I’ve worked in a role working with our organization’s partnerships. One principle that I’ve learned from this experience is the importance of evaluating the WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

In every relationship, there has to be some sort of benefit for each of the entities involved. When a relationship becomes one-sided or the perception begins to appear that only one organization benefits at the cost of the other, then a relationship becomes discontent. This is true in commercial and personal relationships. Therefore, when evaluating a partnership opportunity, it is really important to not only look at the value your organization obtains, but to also evaluate the value that your organization delivers to the other party.

Some factors to consider in evaluating WIIFMs include:

  • Is the value exchanged of perpetual worth?
  • Does 1+1=3 (or greater)?
  • Will both parties feel like they are winning?
  • Does the benefit achieved on both sides outweigh the risks?
  • Do both parties share similar values?
  • Is the other party a trustworthy organization?
  • Will this partnership enable us to honor existing partner agreements?
  • Does the partnership keep us free to partner with other organizations?

When these factors align, things will move much better after the honeymoon phase of a partnership. Negotiations are often difficult, but most of the real investment in a partnership comes after an agreement is reached. Therefore, it is critical to get this stuff right up front.