“Partnership working?” What the hell is Partnership working”?

This has been my favourite tweet of the last 24 hours!

It caused me to pause and reflect.  It made think about how poorly it is defined and what a mess most partnerships are.  Many people find it a Herculean proposition to drive change in a single organisation.  What hope for progress in a partnership?

Yet few organisations or individuals can achieve what matters without involving others in some way.  If you need the support, permission, co-operation or resources of others to achieve what matters to you then you will have to work in partnership.

In my experience the best partnerships are formed when each partner:

is very clear and open about their self interest

has enough power to make things happen and is adept at using power to manage win/win negotiations with other partners.

In the worst partnerships, partners:

  • are unclear about their self interest, or keep it ‘under the table’
  • have little power or autonomy either in their own organisation or with partners
  • are inept at negotiating win/wins and partnerships are characterised by slow (if any) progress

My best guess is that if you work in a partnership and progress is slow, you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms.

The solutions:

  • Clarify and ‘go public’ with your self interest – if you are not prepared to go public then you are selfish rather than self interested.
  • Work on building both trust and power so that you can negotiate win/wins effectively and efficiently.

Good leadership and great development for partners can help partnerships to become significantly more effective.

Some people get very uncomfortable with  the idea of negotiating their own self interest rather than ‘co-operating’ and ‘serving’.  There are a lot of reasons behind this.  This article sheds light on some of them.

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