Carolee Gearhart On Channel Strategy, Responsibility, And The Classic Catch 22

Carolee Gearhart Adaptive Planning Vice President of Global Channels & Partners Corporate Performance Management CPM and Business Intelligence (BI) Software Cloud finance softwareWhen Adaptive Planning asked me to write a bit about my recent appearance on CRN’s “Women of the Channel” list again, I procrastinated.  Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable to talk about myself and I’m much more interested in Adaptive Planning’s laundry list of awards.  I’m also very well aware that my success has been dramatically impacted by the quality of the people I’ve had the privilege of working with, and the quality of the companies I’ve been associated with.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few observations on working with channels – after all, it’s what put me on the list!

Channels, done well, are a natural extension of the golden rule and all about going further and creating a win/win. Therein lies for me the compelling part of my job on a day-to-day basis – an ever-changing set of challenges to work with and create a great outcome for different companies with discrete needs and desires.  If I were to briefly sum-up the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my years in channels it would be simpler than you might imagine: If you have to do too much explaining to either party on why it makes sense for them, it probably doesn’t.  And if it seems too complicated to understand in concept, it will be catastrophically difficult to execute.

The “Responsibility Bias”

Carolee Gearhart Adaptive Planning Vice President of Global Channels & Partners Corporate Performance Management CPM and Business Intelligence (BI) Software Cloud finance softwareI’m also a huge believer in life-long learning – from the people around you (and the more diverse that group, the more you’ll benefit), voraciously reading and maintaining an intellectual curiosity every day.  As a result, you’ll hear me ask a lot of questions and always see me with a book handy.  One recent gem I’ve ready is Give and Take by Adam Grant, which brings some science and analysis to what I’ve always believed is important.

Grant discusses one particularly important idea – the “responsibility bias” – which is a critical component to successful channel relationships that drive results and positive momentum.  Put simply, it’s the predisposition of each of us to disproportionately assess our contributions against another person’s contributions.

Acknowledgement is Key

Carolee Gearhart Adaptive Planning Vice President of Global Channels & Partners Corporate Performance Management CPM and Business Intelligence (BI) Software Cloud finance softwareIt’s an unbelievably easy trap to fall into, without any ill intent. After all, we always know what WE had to do, but have much less visibility into the work of others.  This is an important bias to understand in partnerships. No one appreciates having their contributions discounted or minimized.

It’s fantastic to come to work at Adaptive Planning everyday, where people support the values needed to create successful partnerships and a thriving business.  I really get juiced over the “1+1 = 3” discussions that become possible when you’re open to partners’ ideas.

The Classic “Catch 22”

Carolee Gearhart Adaptive Planning Vice President of Global Channels & Partners Corporate Performance Management CPM and Business Intelligence (BI) Software Cloud finance softwareSince I’ve gotten this far, it’s probably worth referencing the aspect of this award that makes me most uncomfortable: the “Women of the Channel”. Like most other successful people I know, I’d prefer to be judged on my merits alone.  At the same time, as an adopted child, I am well aware of the lottery that places each of us in life. There’s no denying that some are better set for success than others, right from the beginning.  To not acknowledge this is to keep one’s head in the proverbial sand.  On that front, I found Gretchen Gavett’s recent post on Harvard Business Review’s blog really interesting.

In particular the challenge women face in maintaining likeability in the face of increasing the perception of their competence seems to me a classic Joseph Heller “Catch 22”. (After all, you may already like me less now that you’ve heard of my selection by CRN!)

Share this: