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How I Failed My Ambitious Joint Venture And Partnership Abroad?

Why talking about failures, JV and internationalisation?
Simply, because

1) why not?
2) I can, I'm knowledgeable in the subject
3) this is related to discussions subjects I had with different clients, so why not sharing to a larger audience…



The whole story happened some 10 years ago.
The pitch idea was creating a new cosmetic brand for the Chinese market.
The Chinese cosmetic market was at that time a 2 digit percentage growth per year market.
The (my) innovation idea came quite quickly: aromatherapy.
Neither in France and even less in China the word “aromatherapy” spread all over the magazines.
It only came just two or three years later, under the pulse of big brands.
I’m not a cosmetologist, but I’m quite an innovator, I’m resourceful and know how to find what I need (knowledge, knowhow and technology were in France). I spare you the details.

In the adventure we were at least 2 (my partner and I) + a Chinese investor who had money, land, empty industrial facilities and a will to invest in new industrial projects for a fast growing market.

On the paper everything was right!

On the paper everything was right: Go, go, and catch everything you can. Just make it!
… something like that.


So what happened?

I’m telling you, I fall in the same trap as E-VE-RY-BO-DY fall in!

About this, I was neither better, neither smarter than other people.

Intelligence and diplomas change nothing!

Simply because the problem is neither related to intelligence, neither to the sum of knowledge.
The trap is related to … PEOPLE!

Did I already discuss with you about relationship? 😉
Probably in "After all ... it's just business"


“After all… it’s just business”

So, some 10 years ago, that’s what I believed … more or less.

I was just aware that feeling quite good with a business partner was primordial.

And that was the case! The problem was not there!
Oh naive I was … hope filled with blind faith.
Expecting that if something wrong happen, I, we would be able to managed it.
Because “After all … managing a business is managing the unexpected, uncertainty.


What should I know before entering into a partnership, to be able to make smarter decisions?

Behaviors, talents, values, purposes were merely understood – just at the dictionary definition level.
Believe me or not, that’s where (almost) everybody makes mistakes!


I had no clues to go, to see beyond what I can see and imagine about my partner:
no idea of his behavioral style,
no idea of the best way to communicate with him,
no idea of what is his best work environment,
no idea of his way to make decision, to handle stress, to deal with rules, with processes,
no idea of his sense of ethic and what it could practically mean,
no idea of what he can accept or not,
no idea of what his talents are: “what is he really good about?” “where his mind can make sound judgment?”,
no idea of what he values most and how it can affect his decisions and behaviors,
no ideas of what he was really looking for in this adventure, in this partnership,
no idea of what would really be the benefits for him,
no idea if his purposes and benefits would match mines,

Actually, I thought I had some clues about all this ... but I was blind.

Expressed in another way:

I had no idea of what looks like,
what was the “shape” of his HUMAN CAPITAL!

I had no tools to identify, to measure all these, to engage deep dialogue.

The kind of dialogue that clarifies gaps, allows gaps reconciliation, fosters thoughts, engage and empower.

We were just ambitious, pushed by a desire of creating something, expressing an entrepreneurial gut desire in a place where things looked possible to us.

And, more important, we stayed at the “it’s just business” level:

“There will be a company doing X, selling, buying, hiring
and as much as possible growing. It’s not that much personal.
Talking about personal stuff is a bit inappropriate for business relationships.
Your life belongs to you and mine to me.”


About the previous list

You’re right that makes pretty a lot of things.
The list might sound superfluous.
If it does, it means you’ll soon or later have serious problems, unless… you’re lucky.

Can you really just rely on being lucky?
Need to be convinced?
So, just count the failed joint-ventures, the failed partnerships
(of any kinds), the failed mergers and acquisitions.


Identifying, measuring the HOW’s, the WHAT’s, the WHY’s of the partners and the partnership are essential, the foundations to foster understanding, organization, engagement and empowerment.


About the author: Xavier BARILLER helps to bring clarity in projects, in making decision, in building the foundations to healthy and sustainable partnerships (partnership with a wide definition).

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