The more I study thriving companies, the more I invariably find that, one key to their wild success lies in their ability to form successful partnerships. So, when I had the opportunity to spend an evening with Sir Robin Saxby at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub, a week ago, I asked his secrets on the art and science of forming successful partnerships.

In case you are not familiar with his name, Sir Robin is a UK technology entrepreneur most closely associated with his work as ARM Holdings’ founding CEO and Chairman, where he led the company to become the world’s leading semiconductor Intellectual Property (IP) company.

ARM processors are used as the main CPU for most mobile phones, tablets, game consoles including those manufactured by Apple, HTC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung; as well as many other applications, including GPS navigation devices, digital cameras, digital televisions, network devices and storage. Together with its global partners, the pioneering company have shipped to date more than 90 billion ARM-based silicon chips in devices, reaching more than 80% of the global population.

Partnership is the DNA of the company born out of a joint-venture with Acorn computers, VLSI technology and Apple in 1990. I thought I’d hear some complex mechanisms of deal making, legal framing, etc. but Sir Robin explains:

It’s a human adventure.’

You need to get into the head of the person you are seeking to partner with. The key question to ask is: Are we both getting better by collaborating? Do we trust each other?

‘You cannot partner with someone you are not happy to invite home for dinner with your family,’ he says.

It’s about people value not the spreadsheet or number’s value.

Innovation comes from collaboration and it must be win-win for both parties. A small company needs to give a large one something amazing that they are compelled to give them a purchase order or integrate them into their value chain. And corporate need start-ups to rejuvenate them or risk ending up like Nokia, Motorola or Blackberry, that once dominated the mobile phone market and are now the shadow of themselves.

Large enterprises need to reinvent themselves and start-ups help them to keep fresh and relevant. This understanding has sparked the rise of corporate accelerators.

To form a successful partnership, you need to give them what they want and do it better than they can do themselves.

Another ingredient to lead a company to greatness is vision. Sir Robin started his own business at the age of 13, when he set up a radio and TV repair business where his father found the customers and Sir Robin did the repairs.

When he was head-hunted to take the reign of ARM, the tech visionary and his team aimed to become the global standard IP, when they had no pattern, no customer, no money. After a SWOT analysis, they spotted an opportunity to focus on applications where ultra-low power consumption, high performance and low cost are critical and focused on mobile applications. They created a vision of the future for the next 20 years, 3 years, 12 months, 1 month. Sir Robin attitude is: don’t worry about things you cannot fix.

For those struggling to create a vision, observe the world around you to find people’s frustrations and use your own experience. How do you see or imagine things going in the future? Vision doesn’t necessarily come from the blue. Dream big but don’t expect overnight results, it happens step after step. Avoid being arrogant and don’rely on your current success; keep reinventing yourself and never stop learning.

To galvanise and inspire your troops, you need a vivid finish line with a time frame. What is the finish line of your organisation? What is your vision for the next 20 years? The next 5 years? The next 12 months?


Join me and a small group of participants to a strategy planning half-day session on Tuesday 13th December 2016 in Central London to outline your strategy to accelerate your success in 2017 and onward before breaking out for holidays.

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About Francine Beleyi

Francine Beleyi is bilingual French-English, international digital and change consultant, entrepreneurial journalist & speaker who helps corporate executives, entrepreneurs and organisations, to adapt and thrive in the digital age.

Francine spends her days speaking with and studying the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the new economy, and sharing her findings with her clients and those who want to understand and master the new rules for business growth.

She has worked across EMEA, for major corporations like TOTAL, BNPPARIBAS, AXA and also for not for profit organisations and small businesses. She holds a Master’s degree in organisation consulting and change management, a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, a degree in computer science and an NCTJ diploma in multimedia journalism.

Visit |nucleusofchange | @FrancineBeleyi.