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Saturday 28 February 2015

Identify false-positive partners

False-positive potential partners are individuals, groups, businesses and other organisations that, because of their reputation, history and tradition, roles and responsibilities, positioning within society, previously stated views and aims, etc., can be perceived as ideal partnership candidates. When, however, we find out more about them, uncovering their actual rather than assumed values and ways of operating, their true potential to become significantly less than ideal partners reveals itself.

In the criminal underworld one of the greatest dangers is the undercover agent. The most effective ones present themselves as ideal partners in crime, with all the right credentials, history, expertise and attitudes. They can play their parts for as long as it takes, and when the time is right they will ruthlessly trap their prey.

And the criminal, caught like a fly in a Venus fly trap, can do nothing but wait for the inevitable, watching his criminal life gradually dissolve into failure (and significant jail time).

In the legitimate overworld of collaboration the false-positive partner is a dark, but usually somewhat milder, inversion of the undercover agent; where the undercover agent seeks to gather evidence and stop crime and anti-social behaviour, the false-positive of the legal overworld seeks to use their partners' expertise, knowledge and collaborative efforts for their own selfish, perhaps unethical rather than criminal, reasons.

For example, a niche IT company eventually revealed its false-positive nature by withdrawing from its partnership with a well-known global IT company as soon as it had gained the knowledge and expertise it needed to launch its own product (complete with a brand new, rather than its partner's, operating system).

Another slightly more subtle example, arguably, is that of two academic institutions which went into partnership with each other to gain funds for and create a state-of-the-art technology and resource centre. When the time felt right, and the opportunities presented themselves, one institution took steps to ensure that the centre was located within their campus rather than their partner's.

Both institutions obviously had the right of access to the centre and the kudos that came from making it a reality. However, the institution that had the centre within its campus gained the arguably superior kudos that physical possession confers, together with a strong, attractive and quite literally built in argument for gaining additional sponsorships, funding and resources that might subsequently become available.
If not exactly a full false-positive, the partner that gained the centre for its campus certainly exhibited one or two key traits, making it deserving of some very careful surveillance and management. (It could be, and probably was, argued that the centre 'had to be somewhere'. This is a deceptively simple argument that instantly minimises both the significance of the centre's eventual location and the advantages to be gained from having it in one's physical possession. This argument was probably most subtly and effectively employed by the institution that gained the centre for its campus.)

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