The translation of the organisation’s overall strategy into a Relationship Management Strategy provides focus; Access to which networks is needed to achieve our strategy?
What is relationship management:
The approach which intends to create positive and constructive relationships with those selected stakeholders who can support the organisation achieving its strategic ambition. A good relationship with the right stakeholders is necessary to achieve the strategic ambitions of an organisation.
Professional relationship management ensures that a network contributes to the achievement of an organisation’s targets, providing access to the right networks and creating mutual relations with the right people.
Many organisations are currently undergoing the transition to a more flexible network organisation aimed at improving collaboration, both internally and externally. A solid and profitable network is one of the key prerequisites for (business) success, but the development of professional relationship management is new and complex.
The development of professional relationship management requires a holistic and comprehensive approach. Structuring the entire relationship management from strategy to implementation comprises:
Janine Dijkmeijer, from 2014 to 2019 director of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), about the relationship management of the world-famous dance company (from the book ‘Managing Authentic Relationships’, Amsterdam University Press, 2019):
Since her appointment as CEO of the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), Janine Dijkmeijer and her team worked on professionalising the relationship management of the dance company. The dance company already focused on strengthening its network for a long time, but somehow it had not reached its full potential. The focus was perhaps too short-term oriented, whereas most funding is granted by relationships that are fostered in the long-term.
The first steps towards increasing efficiency of the relationship management were by creating clearer job responsibilities and organising alignment meetings, but also by setting up an effective CRM system. But more had to be done to achieve an effectively coordinated network that provides consistent and sufficient funding. Technical solutions alone were not enough.
The new relationship management required a more outward looking tendency; The willingness to interact more actively and consistently with the world outside
The relationship management of NDT focused mainly on its purpose: creating and performing high quality dance art. The new relationship management required a more outward looking tendency. Now times are changing, and stronger ties are needed with governmental organisations, the private sector, other art schools and the creative sector in general, technical solutions and even strong networking skills alone were not enough. What was needed was a change of awareness and the willingness to interact more actively and consistently with the world outside. It required a new habit of sharing information about relationships and stakeholders with the right colleagues and to be aware of what the temperature and needs are of the stakeholders ‘outside’.
Janine and the team had to find a way to open the organisations windows to the outside world. New principles of organising were needed. NDT had to become a flexible network organisation where the staff has the freedom to interact with the outside world, though consistent with the strategic goals of NDT.
The other challenge was marketing versus development. Unlike the development team, marketing was mainly based on marketing strategies and visual attractiveness – and less on content, intimacy and long-term results. Here the team had to change the mindset towards more sustainable relationship management in combination with a strong strategy to engage new audiences. The revenues, funding and benefits of long-term partners are in general higher than of the ones who do not feel deeply connected to the organisation.
Janine explains it as such: “You need a long breath to learn the technique of ballet. You need to trust that practice will bring you there. Once technique is conquered again you need to trust it’s there. From here your soul will start opening and the artform of dance will be transmitted. It’s the same with relationships. You need to be willing spending long-term effort without knowing what the result will be. In the meantime, trusting the process.”
Keep on reading: What is a network organisation, what are relationships?
This post is also available in: Dutch