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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.

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.

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.

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.

The duality of partnership brokering on behalf of the private sector

In December we invited Mary Frankham to share her superb paper on dual roles for partnership brokers, which examines the tension between being a partnership manager whilst also representing a voice independent from all partners involved.

Following on to this topic, we are now presenting you with another excellent think piece on the issue of duality of partnership brokering.

In this edition of Stories from Practice, Australia based Gillian Pearl builds on her experience of cross-sector partnerships with companies like Microsoft, Visa and Facebook. She compares and contrasts the roles of internal partnership brokers and project managers by exploring the similarities and differences in the skill sets and how these are applied. The paper also looks at two key challenges many internal partnership brokers grapple with: a lack of awareness and perceived value of partnership brokering.

The author has spent the past twenty years working for and with the private sector and in this paper, she highlights her observations about the dual role that internal private sector partnership brokers must play when engaging in cross-sector partnerships. Internal partnership brokers are often expected to be both project manager and internal partnership broker and move fluidly between the roles.  The paper focuses on the three key areas:  the skill set required to perform both roles simultaneously; the way to address the lack of awareness and perceived value of the brokering role and; the ways to promote a better understanding of partnership brokering principles and skills.

Read Gillian Pearl’s paper here and share your comments via Twitter using #partnershipbrokers.

Collaboration in disaster recovery

This edition of Stories from Practice takes us to Nepal where in spring 2015 devastating earthquakes killed thousands of people and destroyed over 750,000 homes and vital infrastructure.

Arthi Patel was appointed by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs to support the UNDP in their provision of humanitarian disaster relief. The paper outlines how Arthi, in her role as donor representative and partnership broker, helped the earthquake recovery project to succeed amidst the urgency of delivering rapid relief action and tensions between partner organisations.

In the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes Arthi worked for DFAT and UNDP to assist 14,000 micro-entrepreneurs recover their livelihoods. This was a high-pressure environment with strained relationships and high expectations. Arthi fostered an adaptive management approach, and with the support of her PBA mentor trialled different forms of brokering, collaboration and reflection. A focus on a higher purpose of recovery for micro-entrepreneurs helped people to break through bureaucratic and institutional hurdles. The paper describes how collaborative practice was fostered and came to be valued by all parties in a pressured environment.

Read Arthi Patel’s paper here and share your comments via Twitter using #partnershipbrokers.