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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.

New dates for Brokering Partnerships Remotely courses

The Certificate in Brokering Partnerships Remotely is a five week course delivered online. If you are a partnership practitioner operating remotely and you would like to: explore the issue; build insights and confidence; develop practical approaches suitable for your context and earn a CERTIFICATE in Brokering Partnerships Remotely, you are welcome to join one of the upcoming cohorts:

  • Americas cohort: 14 October – 12 November
  • Europe, Africa, Middle East & South Asia cohort: 21 October – 18 November
  • Oceania & South Asia cohort – week of 19 October – 16 November 2020

To get more information and register for the course please visit the Remote Partnering website.

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.

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. 

Brokering Remote Partnerships online course

PBA  is delighted to announce our new BROKERING REMOTE PARTNERSHIPS online course for front-line practitioners – enrolling NOW and starting in mid-May. Find out more from www.remotepartnering.org.

Deepening awareness in brokering to grow the quality and impact of partnering processes

Join us in this edition of Stories from Practice to explore together with Mariana Merelo Lobo how partnering processes will benefit from bringing awareness and presence into the collective collaborative space, and which practices to adopt to systematically cultivate awareness in oneself, partners and the collaborative field.

During her PBA Accreditation period, Mariana was based in Tanzania for Action Against Hunger working with organisations and individuals, including holistic health practitioners, local non-governmental and governmental organisations, INGOs, and the UN. What emerged from her partnership brokering practice at the time, was the idea to develop and explore collaborative spaces through awareness.

Based on the insight that by expanding our awareness – of the self, of the relationships, and of the wider system – collaborative processes achieve better results, this paper is focused on the importance of action-reflective practice in partnership brokering. This implies that a partnership broker must apply her or himself to three dimensions: subjective, objective, and inter-relational. Partnership brokers are part of a collaborative system; and therefore they have the responsibility (and opportunity) to do better to expand the collective (and generative) intelligence of collaborative efforts. This paper proposes an emergent way to developing and exploring a dedicated partnership brokering field – that approach is called Awareness Express.

Read Mariana Merelo Lobo’s paper here.

If you would like to share your comments with the author or us please email learning@partnershipbrokers.org, or perhaps tweet about it using #partnershipbrokers and following us @PBA_Brokers.

New paper: How ‘tactical agency’ can be useful when navigating complexity

We are starting the new year with an invitation to reflect on your partnership practice by diving into experiences and insights from other partnership brokers in our series Stories from Practice.

Shahina Bahar embarked on her PBA Accreditation journey in 2015 when she worked as an internal broker for a large international humanitarian organisation, at a time where the humanitarian sector saw significant shifts in the external environment as part of reforms and localisation agenda.

In her paper Shahina introduces the idea of “tactical agency” as a strategy to navigate complexity in a partnership. She explores how advancing or withdrawing different aspects of her role, according to the situation and perceived needs of the partnership, may create more space, visibility, legitimacy and traction for a partnership broker.

The paper reflects on the brokering identity and how ‘tactical agency’, linked to notions of identity and awareness of opportunities and constraints in an operating environment, can be a useful strategy when navigating complexity. The paper provides examples of how tactical agency highlights the interplay of the broker as a change agent/actor; the partnership (phases, considerations, different models) and the external environment in which these partnerships operate as well as the tactical agency that partners exercise themselves. It can be a valuable device on how to traverse the ‘grey zone’ drawing from learning within the humanitarian sector.

Read Shahina Bahar’s paper here. If you would like to share your comments with the author or us, please email learning@partnershipbrokers.org, or tweet about your views and experiences using #partnershipbrokers.

New paper: Managing dual roles as a partnership broker

Before many of us dive into the festive season break next week, we are presenting you with a new edition of our knowledge sharing initiative Stories from Practice.

Mary Frankham from New Zealand is sharing the insights of her PBA Accreditation learning journey as a partnership broker for the North-West Wildlink Partnership Group. In her role Mary explored the dynamics of being the project manager of a partnership, while also having the remit to represent a voice that is independent from any of the partners involved, a dual role of sorts.

There has been a lot written about the many functions of a partnership broker, but few discuss how to balance these demands with day-to-day expectations. Some brokers are required to coordinate and manage partnership projects, and brokering is expected to happen on the side. There are positive and negative aspects to one person being both, project manager and partnership broker. Most importantly, this person must step in and out of each of their roles at the right moment, articulate these dual responsibilities to the partnership, and mitigate negative consequences such as partner dependency.

Read Mary Frankham’s paper here. If you would like to share your comments with the author or us, please email learning@partnershipbrokers.org, or tweet about your views and experiences using #partnershipbrokers