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Captain Table method 🎓 to orchestrate complex partnerships

3 of 4 enterprises now use multiple clouds with 88% of execs considering #ecosystem collaboration “critical for success” on this journey. In fact, their 🎓 Captain Table method to orchestrate complex #partnerships is quite interesting




⛅️ Hybrid #cloud?


77% of enterprises now operate on multiple clouds - think Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, on-prem servers, etc. (IBM)

Hybrid has become the way enterprises do cloud - they use public, private, on-prem infra, and now edge too.

This requires integration and orchestration, but helps to reduce cost, risks and stay compliant.



🤝 Ecosystem aligned under one strategy - easy?


Transition to hybrid requires bringing all involved partners together in a voluntary, multilateral ecosystem focused on mutual success. Not so easy.


Internally, multiple line-of-business leaders and a variety of IT leaders will seek to use the program’s resources to their advantage. Externally, implementation partners, hyperscalers, SaaS providers will bring their own divergent perspectives and vested interests.



🎹 3 steps to turn a zero-sum game for each, into a bigger pool of value for the ecosystem


Consider Captains Table (IBM’s approach) to keep the program on track and agree on the most critical decisions.



1️⃣ Who should be at Captains Table?


Think about the size of an agile squad.

Chaired by an enterprise executive, who oversees the entire project.

Includes the internal executives from the lines of business

and external partner executives - lead integrator, cloud providers, MSPs…


Select based on type of people - don’t be impressed with titles.

You need executives who can “play above the silos” of their orgs. They need to be able to make decisions about partner delivery and make them stick (not just act like that).



2️⃣ Creating vision and rules ask difficult questions


A Captains Table needs clear shared goals and processes. Creating them you should anticipate asking critical questions such as:

How are the captains’ performance incentives (bonuses, KPIs, budgets, OKRs, SLAs, affecting program decision-making and execution? How is this aligned with their roadmap, etc.?

Consider asking external facilitators to help with it.



3️⃣ Focus on key challenges, not day-to-day


The Captains Table can’t do the day-to-day work, but it should be involved when partners face challenges or changes.

In projects like this each challenge intersects with your whole ecosystem of partners and requires working in a gray area that may not be covered in each partner’s contract.


This is where Captains Table shines by addressing issues that could otherwise generate a great deal of friction. An open collaboration garage model can be highly effective.


P.S. When I was scaling complex partner program with 50+ partners, we followed very similar methodology.

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