In the past couple of posts (but fanchising seemed so simple, and getting to third with the triple bottom line ) I've paid attention to the problems of leading in an associational system, where multiple smaller entities work together to create a larger one. The ability to achieve together more rapidly and at a reduced cost makes associating an extremely attractive option as one builds an organization. And yet, more often than not, the association is formed and then governed out of a self-centered mutuality that it is as a set of partners in a jointly owned enterprise of the whole.
In short, the participants in the association--whether franchisor or franchisee--advocate for decisions and strategies that benefit their individual bottom line rather than appreciate what it means for the bottom line of their partners, or for all of them together as a united whole. They function as an owner of "my business" rather than as an owner of "our business." I'd add here that this pespective often grows when an individual player cares more for the immediate time horizon instead of seeking long-term value creation of the whole.
When such associations end, due to mutual selfishness or even the stubbornness of an individual partner, much trauma follows--painful circumstances with difficult prospects of recovery. And yet, when well-oiled by grace and mutual service, such associational systems are quite capable of powerful results. Think World Vision, Lutheran Social Services, as well as some of the great stories of franchising where individual franchisees raise the hopes of their families and communities, not just the franchisor's.
Why pay attention to this subjet? Because we cannot escape our participation in associatinoal relationships. Work, family, religion, marketplace and civic aspects of our lives are filled with them. We can either approach them as dog eat dog, or with the Golden Rule. Truthfully, we likely will be hurt or disappointed in some fashion as we associate, regardless of our choice. And yet, only one of these approaches holds the potential of lasting and satisfying triumph.