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The Zayo Ship is Turning to Partner

By Lynn D. Tinney, SVP Global Partner, Zayo

Some weeks are better than others. We’re all out there grinding it out. Sometimes you have to live on the good ones to get through those that are a little rougher. Let me tell you about a good one…

In early November, Zayo pulled off its first partner advisory board. So if you told me in January this was going to be a good week, I’d have my doubts. Zayo hasn’t always been the best partner, but we’ve been hard at work to change that.

But we knew if Zayo wanted to play varsity ball, we were going to need to set up a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – partner advisory board meeting. So back in spring, we started drafting how we’d pull this off and getting the partners at the table without a food fight. Okay, maybe we were a little nervous. But it did feel like planning a sixteenth birthday party and crossing your fingers you could prove you had friends. That’s not far from the truth.

Well! We were able to pull it off.

So just how did we do it? Some rules we lived by:

  • We needed to hear from the partners. This could not be us talking to them.
  • We wanted to know where most of our issues are. Instead of running away from our issues, we wanted to get them out front.
  • This can’t be the channel talking to the channel. We knew the rest of Zayo had to be actively involved.
  • Do not, at all costs, get defensive.
Zayo Ship is Turning to Partner

Additionally, the budget had to include bringing as many partners to the table as possible. With recent QOS Networks and Allstream integrations, we had to be sure everyone was represented.

We paid attention to details.

When would be the best time? Who’s on the invite list?

We focused on those in front of customers. With Zayo making the shift to customer first, we need a hardline connection to the customer facing partners.

Even though it may not be easy, we knew we had to focus on partner concerns to understand where Zayo wasn’t yet meeting the mark. First up were rules of engagement, followed by service delivery. We also had to set up the framework to allow partners to own the conversation. This meant limiting the Zayo speakers to 15 to 20 minutes and allowing for 45 to 60 minutes of partner feedback.

We brought in a facilitator to moderate the meeting and used a framework where the partners would share their thoughts both in the meeting and on sticky notes.

This did a few things: first, it got everyone out of their seats.
It also made sure we heard from the introverts as well as the extroverts.
Finally, it allowed us to aggregate the feedback on our toughest topics.

Zayo pulled off a partner advisory board to be proud of. It was a good week for all. But now the hard work begins. Loud and clear, we heard from the partners that we need to act on what they heard. This is the good hard work of partnering and if Zayo wants to prove it wants to partner, we have to listen and move. We listened well. Now we are committed to action. Next time, we will take you through how we plan to deliver on this.

Game on.