Bring-Build-Buy Map Advances Strategic Partnerships in Innovation

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The Bring-Build-Buy Map can be revelatory for a corporate innovation team and I have observed that repeatedly, but I have been particularly amazed how insightful it is for strategic partnering. It’s far too common for internal groups to zoom past a conversation around capabilities, and it’s astonishing how even more infrequent the conversation is for two teams who hardly know anything about one another (other than that they want to do the deal). It makes sense, of course. They feel like unspoken truths – “we all know what we’re good at, right?” But, the reality is the deal-makers usually aren’t on the innovation team, so when it comes time to execute we don’t know what strengths are leveragable, or even who does, or wants to do, what.

I watched this interaction play out between a client and a partner firm (an application developer) while facilitating a joint working session to plan in-market testing of a service. The session started with the “bring” side of the conversation, allowing the client team to talk through their most relevant, key assets, and also to hear what the partner firm thought belonged on that list– an eye-opening conversation. Then, both parties sorted out what capabilities needed to be created, and whether to “build” or “buy” those (i.e have the partner deliver them), allowing for transparent conversation about what was realistic and efficient for the project. The Bring-Build-Buy Map helped level all conversations to what was best for the service and for speed to market, instead of opening doors to territoriality.

The Bring-Build-Buy Map puts collective assets (present and future) out in the open, and, better still, it allows them to be positioned and repositioned strategically to best fit the project at hand. It gives all parties the opportunity to raise points like, “I expected this, not that,” and “We should own that.” These conversations will strengthen any project team, whether comprised of all internal staff or multiple stakeholder groups.

Here's how to populate each category:

  • Offer defines the new product or service you plan to bring to market.
  • Bring includes any existing leverageable asset you have to stand up that offering.
  • Build includes any asset or capability you could develop.
  • Buy includes any asset you could purchase to fulfill the offering.
  • Borrow is a temporary category. This includes something you may rent, contract, or partner to temporarily acquire so you can quickly stand up the offering. This will help you understand if you should buy it or build it long term after initial testing. .
  • Block is anyone you may want to block from knowing about the offering at this point. These are usually competitors.

Clay Maxwell

Managing Partner

Download the Bring-Build-Buy Map

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