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How to make the most of virtual communication

The shift from face-to-face contact to working-remotely has invited all of us to explore how we can continue to collaborate effectively. Investing in the partnering process and bringing presence to the question of what is needed next is as important as before. The difference is, we are asked to create spaces for these processes online and/ or over the phone.

In this edition of Stories from Practice we invited Accreditation alumni Lauren Flaherty to share her paper on communicating in a virtual world. She recently also completed the Brokering Partnerships Remotely course exploring the benefits and challenges of this new paradigm and what it means to use virtual communication more consciously when elements of context, gestures, body language and eye contact are reduced or even removed.

“Are you feeling overwhelmed by the increase in virtual communication? After generations of honing our face-to-face communication skills, we are sophisticated ‘readers’ of others; their meaning, intentions and potential to help, or harm us. The rich nature of traditional communication feeds our need to ‘fill in the blanks’ of what people are saying, reaching deeper into the meaning behind the words. Virtual communication is sterile, and if not used consciously, can lead to misunderstanding, mistrust and conflict. This paper will get you thinking about communication – and how to make the most of virtual communication, while avoiding some of the pitfalls!”

Read Lauren’s paper here let us know what you have learned in your journey of partnering remotely using #partnershipbrokers on Twitter.

Brokering development partnerships in head-field office contexts

In her PBA Accreditation Paper Anna Naupa explores her role as an internal partnership broker working on development partnerships in a head-field office context. She examines the plurality of roles for an internal partnership broker and investigates specific issues and dynamics that can arise in such contexts related to power, alignment and consensus.

Join Anna in her reflective journey as she navigates complex partnership issues in the unique cultural and regional setting of the Pacific region, characterized by strong cultural norms and practices for collaboration and remote and isolated islands.

“What role can partnership brokering play in navigating head-field office dynamics to foster sustainable development partnerships? This question is explored in the context of the author’s professional experience working as an internal partnership broker for multilateral, multi-national and regional organisations in the Pacific, where the challenges of distance, isolation and smallness necessitate head-field office arrangements that can efficiently address economies of scale. The paper explores the plurality of roles for an internal partnership broker in such contexts and unpacks concepts of power, alignment and consensus in head-field office dynamics. It explores how the central principles of effective partnership brokering can be applied.”

Read Anna’s paper here and let us know how many hats you are wearing when brokering collaborations in complex settings using #partnershipbrokers on Twitter.

Global Dialogues on Partnership

Partnerships for the Goals: Is it time to reframe SDG 17 so it’s fit for transformation?

You can now watch the recording of the first in our series of Global Dialogues on Partnership.
SDG 17 – does it reflect an old paradigm of international cooperation? Of donor-recipient relations? Of developed-developing countries? Does it give primacy to economic growth? Why does it represent a narrow conceptualisation of partnerships, and use language that is contradictory to the language of transformation throughout Agenda 2030?

To watch please click here.

The courage to journey into unknowing

In this edition of our Stories from Practice we are bringing a thought-provoking piece on courage.

PBA Accreditation alumni Kym Burke takes us on a highly insightful journey of developing a personal perspective and meaning around what it takes to practice courageously and encourage others to do the same. Taking the partnership broker’s role and the concept of partnering into new territory, Kym explores the concept of courage in relation to fear, vulnerability and risks

Courage as a response to uncertainty is part of the partnering practice. Exposing one’s vulnerability in the face of the uncertainty of a particular partnering situation and how it might unfold irrespective of ‘best laid plans’ takes courage. The author expands on the idea of courage as a core value for partnering by exploring what it takes to practically embed it into one’s practice and how to build a capacity for courage in others. The paper explores the costs and risks of going beyond business-as-usual in search for better solutions and a better understanding of the challenges.

Read Kym’s paper here and tell us about your moments of courage and the break-throughs that followed on Twitter using #partnershipbrokers.

Raising equality in partnerships through managing trust

Why is managing trust a key issue in partnership brokering and what can partnership brokers do to establish trust?   Ukraine-based Susanna Mnatsakanova is an internal partnership broker for the French Red Cross, and her Accreditation paper tackles these questions in the context of donor-recipient relationships.

With her experience in the humanitarian and development sector Susanna explores how to address the power imbalance in donor-recipient partnerships and how local organisations can be empowered to move from local implementer to local innovator.

The term partnership is often used to describe donor-recipient relationships in the humanitarian and development sector. However, few of these relationships actually represent a partnership with equal relations between donors and recipients. To promote empowerment of local organisations and locally driven social change, equality is an important key. This paper explores the importance of establishing and managing trust in partnerships to raise equality, and how partnership brokers can re-shape donor-recipient partnerships to enable organisations and individuals to maximise the impact of their partnering work. 

Read about Susanna’s partnership work here.   How are you establishing and managing trust in your collaborative work?   In what ways did it impact the partnership outcomes?   Share your experiences with us on Twitter #partnershipbrokers.

More Stories from Practice.

Can partnerships serve as a tool to manage structural challenges in collaborations?

In this edition of Stories from Practice, we share a paper produced by PBA Accreditation Alumni Donna Leigh Holden.

Australia-based Donna works in International Development and decided to focus her mentored reflective practice on her engagement with civil society partnerships in Asia and the Pacific.

She explores how aid effectiveness frameworks are applied in civil society partnerships and how such frameworks impact structural challenges around equity, transparency and mutual benefit.

Drawing on her experience and observations in this field, she brings examples of how partnership brokers can help partners navigate complexity and address potential structural challenges.

‘Development partnerships are not only an end, but an important means for working with this complexity. There are however perverse incentives and structural inequities in play within the development industry that makes this challenging. This paper explores a few of these inequities and proposes that good partnerships for development require moving beyond shared objectives and necessitate a wide-ranging set of reforms which shift the way that different development actors do business.’

Download Donna’s paper here and tell us about your experiences when working wihthin effectiveness frameworks in the International Development sector via Twitter   #partnershipbrokers.

Partnership Brokering & Collective Impact

How does partnership brokering fit into the colorful and ever-changing landscape of collaborative approaches? Our September paper examines this question through the lens of an internal partnership broker.

During her Accreditation period, KATHY GALE, Executive Director for the US-based non-profit organization Eras Senior Network, was leading efforts on a complex multi-stakeholder partnership aiming to deliver a national service program. Using Collective Impact as a framework to guide the process, she explored how introducing partnership brokering principles, and making the role of a partnership broker explicit, influenced the outcome of the Collective Impact process.

Well-intentioned efforts to solve complex community issues with Collective Impact processes risk failure without sufficient attention paid to the formation and management of the partnership. Communities throughout the US have eagerly embraced Collective Impact as a framework for their work. However, without sufficient attention paid to the foundation and development of the partnership, these groups are ripe for the collapse of relationships, hurt feelings, wasted resources, and worst of all, not making progress on the very issue they are seeking to address.  This paper submits that the role of a Partnership Broker is integral in bringing a disciplined method and proven philosophy to the formation and maturation of a partnership, helping to create conditions favorable for using sophisticated processes such as Collective Impact.

Read Kathy’s story here. How did you apply partnership brokering when working with different collaborative frameworks? In what ways did it benefit the process? Share your experiences with us on Twitter #partnershipbrokers.

More Stories from Practice.

Evolving your collaborative style – skills and competencies in partnership brokering

When our associate Catherine Russ formally took the first step to becoming a PBA accredited partnership broker in 2013, she felt that the course helped her ‘fit all the pieces of her professional and personal development journey together.’ Feedback from numerous alumni of the Partnership Brokers Training (PBT) seems to mirror that.

Being able to identify and articulate what it is that many of us do intuitively in their collaborative spaces, is an important step toward becoming more intentional about directing our skills and resources for supporting transformative partnerships.

During the Partnership Brokers Training, we invite participants to call out skills they are using and seeing in their partnering work and to think about how these enable efficient and effective collaboration.

Emerging from practice, we collected a list of skills and competencies we frequently identified in successful collaborators whose work often seems intuitively guided by the question of what is needed next. The list is not an exhaustive one, nor should it be.

Cath used her accreditation journey to deeply reflect on how thought patterns and behaviors influenced the way she would understand and apply certain collaborative skills. Cath takes us through a colorful display of layered context, which reveals shifts in her consciousness that opened new possibilities for evolving and shaping her personal partnering style.

How are you finding your feet as a partnership broker? Exploring your personal approach to working with diversity in partnership understanding, equity and trust is exciting as it is daunting at times.

Read about Cath’s insights here and share your story of discovery and transformation with us on Twitter #partnershipbrokers.

More Stories from Practice.

Effective partnering in a large organisational culture

Australia based Ally Lankester describes a challenge many internal partnership brokers face: How to enable more effective partnering in a hierarchical system? When a culture is well-established people more often than not don’t challenge the way things are done and business-as-usual prevails.

Embedded in a large hierarchical science organization, Ally decided to apply her PBA mentored practice to scoping and building new partnerships with a university and other large public organizations. In her PBA Accreditation Paper she lays out the impact of organizational culture on effective partnering, and what helped her foster a more flourishing landscape for effective collaboration.

This paper explores how the culture of a large organization can influence effective partnering, and how internal brokers can act to build partnering culture and stronger partnerships. I draw on the literature, my action learning to scope a partnership with two large public organizations, and the insights of four others with experience working in large organizations to support partnerships. Key themes of overcoming what were found to be common blockages associated with a hierarchical, siloed and customer/business-oriented culture include: understanding diverse positions and developing common goals; shared language and culture; building internal connection and communication; developing and sharing tools and resources that show the value of partnering; and, working with influential external agents that understand partnering. What becomes evident is that internal brokers are important agents shaping organizational culture to be more ‘fit for partnering’.

Read Ally Lankester’s paper here. Are you recognizing similar challenges in your partnering field? Why not share your experiences via Twitter using #partnershipbrokers.

More Stories from Practice.

Balancing the art and science of partnership brokering

The degree and level of how partnership brokers use aspects of art and science in their interventions is often driven by individual preferences. This month Netherlands-based Rita Dieleman invites us to identify our predominant side and to allow more space for the less commanding one to emerge.

Deeply rooted in scientific thinking, Rita consciously challenged herself to explore more art-guided approaches in her collaborative practice – with rewarding results.

Some people are by nature more ‘science’ persons, others have more characteristics of the ‘art’ side of brokering. This paper describes the journey of an external evaluator who is usually quite results-oriented, focusing on facts, analysing, puzzling, keeping her eye on the ball and pushing for progress. The author explores the art-side of brokering in her work and how she came to appreciate it more. This shift in approach also resulted in a shift in sense of ownership, from the individual broker to all partners involved.

Read Rita Dieleman’s paper here and share your science and art practices via Twitter using #partnershipbrokers.