MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction - not only is it a Cold War strategy - it is my method of dealing with partner dynamics.
For example, three of you start a business. One founder takes the role of CEO (highly recommended, otherwise it confuses the investors - co-CEOs seldom work). In the typical organization, the CEO gets the final say when there is a disagreement - unless his/her co-founders decides to go nuclear.
The principle is simple: you and your partner(s) each possess one nuclear warhead for the life of your business - just one (you can’t buy or build more). In all matters the CEO has the final word - except if one of the partners launches his/her warhead. At which point - for that one decision - the matter sides with the one that partner. If multiple parties launch, then the CEO must launch to set the matter right.
In practice it has worked well for me. When it comes to warheads everyone is equal which keeps the dynamics of a true partnership. Everyone can win a huge decision - once. As such, the warhead becomes so precious that it never gets used - the mere threat of a launch sets off a series of diplomatic discussions. Using the warhead is a signal that the partnership has broken down - the ultimate wake-up call that something is wrong. It is designed as a measure of last resort - everyone fears being in a company post detonation. If a warhead is detonated, it will be the beginning of the end.
Here is a real life story. I was the CEO of Raindance - Todd my partner/co-founder had the only warhead left in the company other than me (the hired senior management do not get warheads only partners/founders). We had a member on the senior management team that was very disruptive (a relatively new hire). I wanted to give the dude some time to work things out, Todd wanted him gone. We talked and argued about the matter but I stuck to my position. One day Todd had enough and said he was ready to push the button and launch his warhead. In the past 6 years Todd never even threatened to launch until this day.
I was shocked. I went home that night and thought about how I misread his willingness to go along with my decision - I was losing his trust and confidence. The next day I came in and negotiated a deal with Todd. I decided to fire the guy but I needed 6 weeks to stabilize the leadership team - Todd agreed with my time-line as a compromise. Todd was happy, he backed down and all was right with the world - the missile was still in the silo. Getting rid of the guy was absolutely the right decision.
If you respect your partners - MAD works - at least in my world.