Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Building business alliances - lessons from "Miami Vice"

My wife and I went to the movies on Saturday night, and I'll bet I was the only one in the theater thinking about how the configuration and practices of the drug business that is central to the plot provide good instruction for legitimate businesses.

The script also used some funny business jargon, including "skillset" and "outsource." And, of course, "mojito."

Some lessons (it will help to have seen the movie, which is a very well-done entertainment):

  1. Deals need to be sealed in person. Only by traveling to Montoya's territory in South America did Crockett and Tubbs establish their bona fides, as well as understand the structure of Montoya's organization (especially the roles of Jose Yero and Isabella).

  2. Test the waters with a small deal before moving onto bigger things. Montoya's group committed to work with Crockett and Tubbs on a relatively small deal, with straightforward terms, to test their ability to deliver.

  3. Relationships matter. Crockett struck the revenue-sharing arrangement for the second deal after developing a very strong relationship with Isabella.

  4. Be aware of power struggles and shifts in the structure. Crockett set the wheels in motion for the alliance falling apart by walking brazenly into Jose Yero's club with Isabella on his arm. Not realizing that there was a power struggle between Yero and Isabella, Crockett gave Yero the ammunition to undermine Isabella with Montoya and get approval for the ambush.

  5. Have a contingency plan in case things go wrong. Which of course they do in "Miami Vice." Hey, if things didn't go wrong, you wouldn't have a movie.

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