Partnership is the simplest form of innovation to drive common agenda

Friday December 03 2021
A motor assembly line.

A JAC Motors assembly line in Weifang city, in 2018 teaming up with Volkswagen China and its Spanish brand SEAT to establish an R&D center by 2021 to develop electric cars, technology for the Internet of Vehicles and autonomous driving. PHOTO | FILE


Today we delve into another type of innovation that I call innovative partnerships. This powerful tool introduces a multiplier effect and power of synergy. It takes the power of each and exponentially increases the value.

See the Hewlett Packard laptop with an Intel processor, Beats audio speakers, running on Microsoft windows, or a Boeing 747 running on a Rolls-Royce Engine? Or the cellphone with cameras, voice recorders and different applications all produced by different people. The ability to blend all these masterpieces of creativity and innovation together in one platform called a phone is what makes that platform unique.

I am a product of innovative partnerships. I was a nobody when I came to Kenya. I had just had a major failure and was recovering my confidence and drive for life again.

I would enter a cybercafe, type articles and share with friends. One of these reached Samson Osero who was then principal of a HR College. Not long after, he became Executive Director of the institute of Human Resource Management. When going to host his first conference, he asked me to share some of the thoughts I had shared on email. This was the beginning as he guided and mentored me. The rest, is history.

Consider this: In a world where many newspapers are struggling to stay afloat under the threat of disruption, especially from the digital world, how does one newspaper manage to sell every single copy available by 9:30 am and then have copies sold at ridiculously inflated prices online within hours? How did The New York Post get to a place where the day’s edition of Monday August 13, 2018, became a collector’s item that people were willing to pay more for that had nothing to do with the news!

Further, it was bought out by people who were not regular customers. Most of those were young people who never buy newspapers! Some people even resold a copy for as high as $100.


Dramatic and sensational

On their digital platform the New York Post quoted one of their sellers, Thomas Prakash, as saying, “I knew they were not the usual customers because they asked for the paper. My usual customers just take it” from the stack before paying for it, Prakash said.

What is the secret to this dramatic and sensational performance? It was because they entered into a strategic disruptive partnership with a pop culture clothing line called “Supreme”.

The paper for that day had in bold on its front and back pages only one thing besides its own name: the logo of a clothing brand that describes itself on its own website as the Home of New York skate culture.

“Supreme” started in 1994 having as its core group neighbourhood youths, NY skaters and local artists who became the stores staff, crew and customers. And everyone in NY wanted to be associated with the “Supreme” brand!

Remember the golden questions of Innovative Partnerships — who we can partner with to increase the scope of what we are doing. Whether as an individual or as a company, innovative partnerships are key to growth.

Wale Akinyemi is the convenor, the Street University ( and chief transformation officer, PowerTalks; [email protected]