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CSSI Symposium 2024 – Power and Inclusion

This year’s edition of the CSSI Symposium is hosted by the University of Cape Town.
PBA Associates will host an online panel discussion on 5th April on Working with communities: Can partnership brokering help to navigate power imbalances (and promote inclusion)?
The panel will be convened by Leda Stott and Bulbul Baksi, and the speakers will be Kwasi Amponsah Boateng, Anindita Majumdar, Olukayode (Sbaba) Soremekun and Peni Tawake. Drawing upon experiences from different country and cultural contexts the panel will discuss whether partnership brokering and the promotion of principle-based collaboration can make a difference in the navigation of power with and among marginalised communities, and how it might assist communities to express and make use of their own power.

Partnership Campaign for the SDGS

PBA contributed to an advocacy campaign involving UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, The Partnering Initiative and others, focused on creating a more enabling environment for partnerships. PBA Associates prepared a paper for the final report on the contribution and value that partnership brokers bring to partnerships.
The report was launched at the UN General Assembly in September. One of the key findings of the study was that a very significant determinant of a partnership’s success was related to having an independent third-party specialist providing facilitation and support. The report pointed out that partnerships need to invest in the process of partnering, where possible with the support of such a specialist (broker), to ensure inclusion, unlock innovation and set the partnership up for success. They should also build in stronger monitoring to demonstrate value creation, measure progress to allow adaptation, and keep the partnership healthy and effective.

Is Your Partnership Practice Re-enforcing Colonial Inequalities?

Annie Sloman

Annie Sloman

This month, in our Stories from Practice, we meet Annie Sloman, as she explores and reflects on how partnership brokering should, and can, support decolonization of aid.

Based on her experience as a partnership broker in Timor-Leste, Annie Sloman discusses possible contributions of partnership brokering to decolonization and combatting racism in international development and humanitarian action.

She unravels the hidden assumptions about power and privilege that we often take for granted in our practice, and how such assumptions can, in fact, be counter-productive in reducing systemic inequalities that we are working so hard to overcome.

She gives insightful ideas on how issues of power and privilege can be addressed immediately and continuously in ongoing partnership activities.

Read Annie’s paper for six practical guidelines as to what you can and should do differently in your practice, as a partnership broker – especially if you wonder whether your practice re-enforces colonial inequalities or transforms societies for a better world.

Possibilities and Pitfalls of Pro Bono Partnership Brokering

Food for thought…

Could offering pro bono partnership brokering services be more rewarding and more effective than being contracted for a fee? Would it have an impact, in any way, on the principles of good practice?

This month, our Stories from Practice, draws your attention to the possibilities and pitfalls of pro bono partnership brokering as discussed by Australia-based partnership broker CAMERON WILLIS.

“The experiences of those who have worked in pro bono capacities, testify to how pro bono positioning can shift the nature of the relationships and the nature of engagements, including for partnership brokers. The acknowledgement of pro bono services, and respect for such offerings, can bring an openness to an engagement: allowing new ideas to be explored, different techniques trialled, and learning to be shared. For some, this will stand in contrast to fee-for-service engagements, that may have more limited room for exploration or innovation. For an inquisitive, curious and improvement-oriented broker, these can be significant rewards that advance both a partnership, and the practice of a broker. Effectively communicating the benefits of this way of working may require us to re-think the language we use around pro-bono services to more effectively convey the freedom, adventure, and growth that can come from these types of engagements.”

Download Cameron Willis’ paper here and share with us about your experiences on pro-bono partnership brokering services. You can also connect with Cameron and other brilliant partnership brokers via PBA LinkedIn.

Shakespeare and partnership brokering

“To thine own self be true” – With a quote from William Shakespeare this months Story from Practice invites readers to build self-awareness of their impact on others in partnership situations.

Australia-based partnership broker KELLIE KING tackles the topic of “the multiple self” and explores the concepts of compartmentalising and integration.

Kellie shares how her own life circumstances and gender pushed her towards compartmentalisation and she examines how this impacts her collaborative practice, analysing its disadvantages as well as potential.

“Being authentic is increasingly considered a valuable and sought-after characteristic. Considering how and why we construct compartments for different aspects of our lives can be a powerful way to deepen our personal understanding of ourselves and foster authenticity. Set in a regional Australian community at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, this paper shares the author’s personal journey to better understand her own constructs of self and provides reflections on her experience of challenging the status quo. In doing so, she challenges the reader to reflect on themselves and how they might use this thinking to enhance their practice.”

Download Kellie King’s paper and connect with her and other brilliant partnership brokers via PBA LinkedIn.

You can also hear from Kellie and her accreditation experience in this short video clip.

Partnering principles – making them your own

Partnering invariably cuts through established, more traditional ways of working. It requires people from different entities, sectors and communities to cross their organisational boundaries and engage differently.

This process can be difficult. PBA identified the 5 most common challenges and developed a principled approach to turn challenge into value-add of the partnering approach.

Building on the 5 PBA partnering principles of Relishing Diversity, Building Equity, Promoting Openness, Ensuring Mutual Benefit and Courage To Be Different, Australia-based partnership broker SOPHIE CLAYTON tells us her story of how she approached the integration of these principles into the start-up phase of a two-year, multi-stakeholder collaboration.

She details her thinking on how a partnership broker can facilitate processes that support partners in setting principles that are real for themselves and their context. What does each principle mean in practice? In her work, Sophie builds on this question by proposing supporting behaviours and matching statements of intent.

“The partnering principles form the basis of practice for all partnership brokers. They are high level and open to interpretation – to be used as guides and inspiration. However, there is scope to add to the principles by associating them with pro-partnering behaviours. For each principle, this paper proposes behaviours and statements of intent, adding substance and specificity to help add meaning to the principles so that partners know what to do to reflect the principles in their actions. Also, a sixth principle – accountability – is proposed, to address unreliability concerns and build credibility among partners. “

Download Sophie Clayton’s paper here and tune into this short video to hear from Sophie about her PBA Accreditation journey.

Cultivating your inner place to build stronger partnerships

When immersed in collaborative processes, partnership brokers often operate in a doing-mindset, using tools that help partners work through what’s needed now.

By turning our attention to developing our inner awareness – our inner condition as partnership brokers – we may experience a shift from doing to being.

During her 3-month mentored practice Australia-based internal partnership broker MICHELLE COSTELLO experienced just that. In her PBA Accreditation paper, she explores how cultivating inner awareness has fostered a much richer connection to the partners and the partnership’s potential and resulted in transformative outcomes.

“Developing personal awareness about the place from which we partner has the potential to deepen connection with partners, strengthen practice and enhance outcomes. This paper proposes a brokering practice continuum that can support brokers to delineate, appreciate and reflect on the difference between outer place and inner place focused partnering. It is an evolving collection and reflection of early insights into how and why the shift to inner place partnering can support: deeper connection with partners; greater alignment with the partnership’s emerging potential; shifts in outcomes that have previously been slow to gain momentum; and brokers to role model Partnership Brokers Good Practice Principles.”

Download Michelle Costello’s paper here and get in touch with her and other brilliant partnership brokers via PBA LinkedIn.

Meet Michelle through this short video. She tells us about her accreditation journey and how it impacted her collaborative practice.

Exploring Partnerships and Principles in Conflict Contexts

The Partnership Brokers Association was commissioned by Charter for Change, through the Dutch Relief Alliance, to examine the interface between humanitarian and partnering principles, and contribute to the debate on principled humanitarian aid and localisation. The full report  ‘Towards Principled Humanitarian Action in Conflict Contexts – Understanding the Role of Partnerships’ captures the voices of over 120 local/national humanitarian practitioners in Nigeria and South Sudan, and provides some fresh insights into understanding how partnering might support/enable principled humanitarian action.

The report will be launched and discussed on Wednesday 2nd June at 2-3.30pm CET, at an online event moderated by PHAP. We invite you to register and join what will undoubtedly be an important and engaging conversation.

Tempered Radicals and Partnership Brokers

DAWN BAGGALEY‘s Accreditation paper explores how partnership brokering is central to creating sustainable change, and how the emerging professions of partnership brokering and sustainability compare.

In her role as Head for Sustainability for the NZ Post, Dawn draws her own experience as a sustainability professional and internal partnership broker and she invites the perspective of others in the field through a survey questionnaire.

She applies the concept of “Tempered Radical” – someone who “works within the system to change the system” – to examine how partnership brokering principles could help the sustainability profession to mobilise knowledge and skills to address systemic, cultural and organisational challenges.

Dawn’s paper sheds light on the skills, tool and strategies they use and how brokering is essential to creating sustainable change.

“This paper explores how partnerships and internal brokering is key for creating sustainable change within organisations in particular business.  Through the lens of Tempered Radicalism, the author is analysing the skills and strategies that have guided her work as a sustainability profession and identify similarities between partnership brokers and sustainability managers. A peer survey shows that over 80% are brokering as part of their day-to-day work.  There is huge potential for both professions to learn from each other and collaborate.”

Download Dawn’s paper here. What are you observing about sustainability and partnership brokering in your collaborative context?

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Cultivating equity through applying a gender lens

Before we are closing this turbulent year, we would like to leave you with a thought-provoking and highly relevant story from practice.

In her PBA Accreditation paper Australia-based SAMANTHA GROVER shares about her experiences in integrating gender and equity as values in her partnership work. The relevance of a gender lens in partnership brokering and its contribution towards helping to establish equity moves beyond the man and woman relationship aspects.

Samantha works on environmental issues in an academic context. This invites another layer of significance to her work in that environmentalists consider the exploitation of nature to be supported by a patriarchal framework, while feminists speak about collaboration with nature, which resonates well with the partnering framework.

We all have a gender, but few of us are gender experts. Sustainability unarguably requires greater equity, and yet our internal and external processes are steeped in gendered institutional practices. As partnership brokers, we have the opportunity to help partners to recognise and change inequitable practices. Beginning with internal team practices builds buy-in and confidence. Deep capacity building will be required to mainstream gender and equity within research for sustainable development. Join Partnership Broker Samantha Grover as she weaves gender, academia, and sustainability research into a rich tapestry in this paper.

Read Samantha’s paper here and tell us in what ways you cultivate equity in your collaborative work on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Grasping for clarity: Defining interorganizational relationships

For the November edition of “Stories from Practice” we are presenting a paper on developing partnering approaches within and across organisations.

During her Accreditation journey, Canada-based alumni DANA SILVER explored her organisation’s relationship with funders. The process revealed that despite one of the core funders dedication to building a partnership, the understanding among partners of what “partnership” means differed widely.

The paper describes her experience in helping her organisation become more ‘partnership ready’. The examples provided on mapping relationships and exploring mindsets illustrate how internal partnership brokers can approach organisational development and capacity building in an inclusive, step by step manner.

“The term ‘partner’ is often used to describe a wide range of organizational relationships, without necessarily considering the value each contributes toward achieving the organisation’s mission. Internal partnership brokers increasingly find themselves in the role of having to serve as voices and instruments of change in support of their organisations having greater clarity about what they mean by partnering and having more coherent strategies and approaches to partnering development, implementation and evaluation. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges organisations face in making partnering a core part of their work.”

Read Dana Silver’s paper here and tell us how you foster partnering approaches in your organisation. #partnershipbrokers on Twitter.

Through “Stories from Practice” we are sharing compelling papers written by partnership brokers as part of their PBA Accreditation journey. Every story is a contribution to a colourful mosaic that shows the many facets of our growing professional field.

Building New Landscapes for Partnering Remotely

Is it true that, ‘It’s much harder to build trust without meeting in person’? Perhaps we have a new opportunity to do ‘business as unusual’ and to disrupt the patterns we found ourselves working in that didn’t feel equitable or effective.
Watch the recording of our third Global Dialogue on Partnership to explore with Catherine Russ, who created the prototype for PBA’s ‘Brokering Partnerships Remotely’ certificate course, the disruptive potential offered by remote dynamics in partnerships. Get motivated to try some new things!



6 partnering lessons for bilateral donors

In the September edition of Stories from Practice we invited PBA accredited partnership broker Dulani Sirisena to share her paper with our global community.

Dulani explores the relationship between donors and beneficiaries, and how both sides can move beyond the transactional nature of a funding relationship toward extracting greater value and impact. While not all partners have to be ‘equal’, it is key to seek equity in the partnership.

Dulani provides insights from her own practical experience with DFAT programmes in Sri Lanka and offers pointers as to how mutuality and reciprocity can be achieved. Not least also asking the question, whether to partner with all the consequences of mutuality, reciprocity and sharing risks, costs and benefits, or not to partner and instead focus on providing funds in the most effective way possible.

“In today’s world of complex development challenges, such as the global crisis we are facing right now, it is no longer enough for donors to play a passive role in the development equation. A broader understanding within the development community is required of the value-add a donor can provide beyond funding. This paper shares lessons on common partnering challenges from the Australian Community Rehabilitation Program in Sri Lanka, and the application of key partnering principles to resolve them. It explores the critical role of a bilateral donor in building and supporting effective partnerships.”

Download Dulani Sirisena’s paper here and tell us about your insights on working with donors on Twitter @PBA_Brokers using #partnershipbrokers.

What can partnership brokers learn from engineers?

Short answer? A lot. In her PBA Accreditation paper, Vietnam-based Takara Morgan explores the challenges related to introducing partnership brokering approaches to existing collaborations. Examining and understanding the structural integrity of the partnership is key to help partners ‘retrofit’ and implement principles and practices, that will not only carry the dynamics of collaborative processes but lift the partnership’s effectiveness and ability for transformative impact.

“What can partnership brokers learn from engineers? Not much it might seem. On the surface, engineers may even be considered the antithesis of partnership brokers. However, if an existing partnership is considering introducing partnership brokering approaches, the partnership broker needs to understand the foundations on which the partnership was built. If there are cracks, these need to be addressed before applying extra loads. If not, there will be problems later on. This paper explores case studies on retrofitting partnerships with partnership brokering approaches, and suggests four pre-conditions that need to be assessed to determine if a partnership is ‘retrofit ready’.”

Read Takara’s paper here and tell us how you helped existing collaborations adopt partnership brokering practices, 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.