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7 Probable Myths of Partnering by Catherine Russ

Over the years at the Partnership Brokers Association – working as we have in many different contexts and types of collaboration – we have come to believe that there are a number of partnership ‘truisms’ that may, in fact, not be true.

Myth #1 – “Collaboration is simple – it just takes common sense and good project management”

Collaboration is always complicated and often complex and failure rates of partnerships have been high over the past 20 years because too many key players have not understood this. In reality, partnering requires a high level of professional skill and a focus on process management.

Myth #2 – “Partnerships are the best way to address most problems in the humanitarian sector”

Many issues may be dealt with more efficiently and directly in a transactional model. It is an error to assume that partnering is the best mechanism for every intervention – it should be reserved for the truly intractable problems for which diversity of view and a wide range of interventions are essential.

Myth #3 – “Successful projects are the most important outcome of a partnership”

Project outcomes are, of course, important, but even more valuable outcomes may go way beyond projects – mind-set, policy, behavioural and / or system change may be far more important in the longer term.

Myth #4 – “For partnerships to work, all partners must have common objectives”

Partnerships must operate under a shared, overarching mission but beneath that, each partner is likely to have their own set of specific objectives. The best partnerships welcome this diversity and work hard to incorporate different approaches since this is most likely to lead to innovation and unexpected solutions.

 Myth #5 – “Agreement and consensus are essential for good partnering”

The aim is ‘win-win’ scenarios – this is most likely to be achieved if partners are ambitious for the partnership and work to arrive at alignment with a level of give and take rather than struggling for 100% agreement that inevitably leads to unsatisfactory compromise or collusion.

Myth #6 – “All partnerships need is a good leader”

The risks of a sole leader include on the one hand, over-dependence and on the other, power imbalance. Partnerships are a real opportunity to address questions of power and inequity.  Partnerships that work well are those that offer opportunities for new forms of shared / distributed leadership

Myth # 7 – “Partnerships are nothing new – they’re as old the hills”

It is probably the case that human beings have survived because they have found ways of collaborating and developing a healthy interdependence. However, given the huge challenges we currently face, the time is right to approach the collaborative imperative with a new focus and intentionality. There is an urgent need for those involved in partnerships to equip themselves for the 21st century with appropriate adaptive knowledge and skills coupled with the new modes of networking, societal innovation and communicating.

 

Catherine Russ is speaking at AidEX 2015

@CathRuss

Doing development differently: partnership brokering in a programme addressing urban poverty in Bangladesh

How do you respond when a community asks you to help them to access health services, education and jobs when your programme doesn’t have funding for these things?  Managers of the Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPR), a large programme managed by UNDP in Bangladesh, did so by becoming expert partnership brokers.  They helped to create win-win collaborations between the communities themselves and local NGOs, Government departments and companies.

Tom Harrison was so impressed with this approach that he has written a paper explaining what he found when he was commissioned by UNDP to evaluate this programme.  He explains how the brokering works in practice and why he thinks this is a valuable lesson for any organisations seeking to ‘do development differently’ in the new SDG world.

Read the paper here: Partnership Brokering in UPPR

 

 

New report: the art of partnering

Published by: Kings College London

The result of a cultural enquiry between the BBC & Kings College – exploring the role partnership plays in enabling publicly funded cultural institutions to enhance the quality and diversity of their work across the UK.

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural/culturalenquiries/partnership/index.aspx

Partnership brokering is a role that needs professionalising. The skill set for the cultural sector should be more clearly identified and nurtured within organisations or as an external network of experienced practitioners.”

Ros Tennyson, PBA’s Development Director for Strategy & Services was on the Advisory Panel and attended the launch this week.

True partnership is radical, possibly revolutionary, difficult and testing as it should be. The rewards of transformation, of innovation, can be real and significant. But they must be hard fought and will be hard earned.” Sir John Tusa

Issue 5 of Betwixt & Between – the journal for partnership brokers – out now

And it is quite an issue. Here’s a taster of the 6 articles, followed by some useful links:

Diversity as an essential partnership ingredient: Marcia Dwonczyk

Addressing complex issues will need partners with different purpose, experiences, & approaches – such  diversity is key to innovation. There is a role for the Partnership Broker in supporting & challenging partners to stretch beyond the obvious partners, and work beyond their comfort zones.

Brokering shorter food supply chains: Rafal Serafin

“Partnership brokering is needed because collaboration… must encompass not just farmers and consumers, but also other stakeholders in the local food system, including public agencies, community groups, media, schools, researchers…. An investment in partnership brokering in this way is an investment in building local food systems as transformative partnerships, which over time build the skills, knowledge, know-how and markets that enable them to self-organise and sustain themselves, generating benefits for all participating partners.” 

Brokering in fast moving partnerships: A Digital Promise case study: Chelsea Waite

Fitting pace & style: How many partnerships start in a rush? Process & frameworks are appreciated & needed, however it doesn’t always play out that way. Here, the author took a resource from the Partnership Brokers Training Level 1 and adapted it to her working context.

Building competencies for co-creative partnering for local, adaptive development: Marisa Vojta

Organisations across the sectors must adapt their systems and processes, as well as their staff skills and competencies to become better partners if they want to remain relevant in the development space. Developing partnership brokering competencies in staff can change development practitioners’ mind-set from service- or solution-delivery to meaningful co-creation through facilitation of participatory processes.

Working with development giants – a brokers dilemma: Kenze Ndamukenze

Starting a complex partnership coordinator role with a key question: “What to do now?” – the importance of taking the time to understand the role of the coordinator – both with a partnership broker lens, and also through the eyes of the partners.

Exploring partnership culture – the partnership brokers role: Surinder Hundal

A greater understanding, awareness and sensitivity to organisational culture among organisations seeking to partner can increase their chances of partnering effectively. It also helps partnership brokers. They observe behaviours and group dynamics at work in the day-to-day life of the emerging partnership. Understanding a partnership in terms of its emerging organisational culture and in relation to the organisational culture of the partners creates an opportunity for partnership brokers to make practical and tactful interventions where required. Ethnographic approaches can be useful in understanding cultural dimensions of the partnering process.

 

Quick links

To view this issue, alongside the Editorial, and also past issues: https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/journal/

To find out how to contribute an article: https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/contribute-to-the-journal/

To subscribe to receive future issues: http://partnershipbrokers.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=2db7a18f80d8c273e1dd07b49&id=748efdc7f6

Have a question? let us know: info@partnershipbrokers.org

 

 

 

Partnership Brokers Training heads to Wellington, NZ

We are running a Level 1 training in Wellington in October – all details here: https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/training/level-1/

We are working with Thought Partners and Inspiring Communities. The training is 20 -23 October 2015.

Seeking Partnership Brokers for Learning

Action Against Hunger are recruiting for 5 Regional Learning Advisors: http://www.acfin-hr.net/jobs/positions.php?hq=18&id=1258&lang=EN

Deadline for applications is May 10 2015.

Partnerships in the 21st Century: opportunities, challenges and the future

PBA’s Ros Tennyson  delivered a keynote speech this week at the ICVA annual conference, and here are the highlights.

To learn more about ICVA please visit their website: https://icvanetwork.org/

 

Power & Politics: the second installment of the Start Network story now published

Following on from ‘Dealing with Paradox’, ‘Power & Politics: The Consortium-building Story continues’ is now published. This is the second piece in the story of the consortium:

” Over a year has passed since the publication of the first case study and it is time for a re-visit. That it has been turbulent is clear – a great deal has happened and the picture is now, in some ways, very different…………

There is no doubt that there are exciting, possibly turbulent, definitely ambitious and potentially innovative times ahead. With so many internal and external factors in play, not even the most far-sighted can know whether the inherent paradoxes will prove insurmountable or will… continue to give the Consortium the challenge it needs to re-frame the game and make a serious difference to those that need it most”

Read the full piece here: https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/learning/

The first case study is also posted on the link above.

Fanning the Flame: The CDAC Network – A Movement for Change (2009 – 2014)

This new publication tells the story of the CDAC Network (Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities). From initial meetings through to the first Members Council, it charts the journey of the Networks formative years.

“What shines through is Network Members’ passion and commitment to ensuring that communicating with disaster affected communities becomes a consistent, resourced and predictable element of humanitarian preparedness and response, and their commitment to the CDAC Network as an important vehicle and voice in propelling this agenda forward.”

 

Click here to access the publication from the CDAC Network site.

Six key themes for successful collaboration in 2015

Based on the conversations of the 2014 Usual Suspects festival, the organisers* have created a hit list of themes for collaboration:

  • Power & dynamics
  • Collaborative skills & competencies
  • Mobilising ‘hidden’ collaborators
  • Creating accessible platforms
  • Leadership & resilience
  • Scaling great collaborations

 

Read more here: http://www.collaboratei.com/news/the-unusual-suspects-festival-building-a-coalition-of-collaborators-in-2015.aspx

*Collaborate, SIX, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Call for abstracts – Betwixt & Between

The next issue of Betwixt & Between – the  journal of partnership brokering – comes out in May and we welcome your abstracts.

For details on how – please visit the contribute page.

We are looking for articles from practitioners – be it frontline experience or conceptual frameworks. You don’t have to be an alumni of the Partnership Brokers Association to contribute – we welcome abstracts from all those working in this field.

If you are interested in contributing to the journal we invite your abstract by 28 February 2015. If you would like to contact us to discuss your piece, please email us. To view past issues of the journal: https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/journal/.

The humanitarian sector through the eyes of partnership brokers – Betwixt & Between issue 4 out now

Issue 4 of Betwixt & Between – the journal of partnership brokering – is out now. It is a special issue focusing on the humanitarian sector, and has articles covering the following:

  • Hard-earned lessons for putting the partnership principles into practice
  • The servant leadership approach and humanitarian collaboration
  • Passing on the mantle of humanitarian collaboration across generations
  • Develloping a soft humanitarian field – improving doing and being through creative partnership brokering
  • Supporting civilian protection as humanitarian action – a brokering experience from the DRC
  • Value for money in partnerships – a challenge to partnership brokers

Read the full articles here

To contribute to the journal click here. The next issue is an open issue.

The humanitarian partnership broker as change agent

A new blog by Catherine Russ on the Humanitarian Practice Network talks through the barriers to effective partnerships and their management, and what a new approach may look like. The skilling-up of partnership brokers could assist the evolution in building partnerships that are fit for purpose in complex environments. This requires a new way of looking at funding and supporting partnerships.

“What is needed is an approach that fosters and embeds a partnering mindset and creates conditions of trust, creativity and innovation – all increasingly essential conditions for finding integrated solutions to complex problems and building legitimacy and buy-in from all partners for sustained systemic change.”

Read the blog here

 

Collaboration Complexity – a Myanmar case study

The partnership at the heart of this case study is from a project funded by the Government of Canada, managed by Agriteam. The project was designed to build skills in negotiation to enable stronger participation in law making and development planning amongst stakeholders in two locations in Burma / Myanmar as a contribution to the country’s transition from conflict and authoritarianism to democracy.

The work took place over the course of 7 months, and the case study was designed to be a mechanism for recording the process of collaboration. This was in terms of both the programme’s partnership structure and its collaborative delivery model in a country where voluntary collaboration has, until recently, been strictly confined to Buddhist charity.

Its focus was collaboration in action at the strategic, operational and community levels. The content was compiled by all 4 partners: Agriteam, Institute for International Development, The Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation and the Partnership Brokers Association, and was collated and structured in this case study format by PBA.

We hope this study is of use to those working in complex collaborative projects. Our desire is that this contributes to practitioners learning about collaboration – about the process, the relationships, the challenges and the potential for a new way of working.

Download the case study

PBA Board expansion

2014 kicked off with a flying start for PBA, bringing on both changes in the Board, and the appointment of 2 Development Directors.

The PBA Board has grown from 4 to 6. One of our original Board members– Kwasi A. Boateng has stepped down from the Board due to time commitments and to provide the opportunity for others to contribute their experience as Board Members to this ‘wonderful organisation’ (his words, not ours!). Kwasi will remain on the Members Council and an active alumnus of the organisation.We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Kwasi for his steadying presence and spirited support of PBA’s establishment and growth.

The January board meeting confirmed the appointment of 3 new Board Members.  This is in line with PBA’s drive to bring in a wealth of experience and fresh ideas to take forward our plans as a fit for purpose, small yet robust organisation. The 3 individuals are all alumni of the organisation, and come from very different backgrounds: Sam Aiboni works for Shell in Nigeria, Ian Dixon is the founding Director of Dixon Partnering Solutions and hosts the training in Australia. Marieke Hounjet is with Start Network in London. See the Governance page for a short biography of each Board Member.