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20 ways to know whether your partnership is likely to succeed Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail

Whatever field you are involved in, partnership working is increasingly providing the means for delivering better services rand addressing community issues more effectively That’s because nowadays many organizations simply cannot single-handedly resolve major issues that communities face. They simply must work with others. But what leads to success when partnerships are involved? What makes partnerships effective? 

And is it possible to know in advance whether a partnership approach is likely to work?To help I asked perhaps the leading expert on the topic, Paul Mattresses of the Wilder Institute in the USA, to tell me how to know in advance whether a partnership is likely to work. This is what Paul had to say:“Research by the Wilder Institute shows there are 20 factors which strongly influence whether a partnership will succeed.There is no formula which produces success and the measures will differ, depending upon the circumstances. But to maximize the likelihood that your partnership will succeed, you must take the 20 factors listed below into account.

1. Is there a history of collaboration or co-operation?
If partners have collaborated previously, or if working in partnership already occurs in a community, a new partnership in that community is more likely to succeed. Previous experience enables partners to learn how to work with others. It gives them a realistic understanding of the benefits and costs of working together rather than independently.

2.  Is your partnership considered a legitimate leader by the local community?
In the eyes of residents, does your partnership have the authority and the competence to accomplish its goals?  If so, you are more likely succeed.

3. Is there a favorable political and social climate?
Political and opinion leaders, persons who control resources, and the general public should support (or at least not oppose) your partnership’s mission if you want to maximize the likelihood of success.

4. Is there a mutual respect, understanding, and trust between the members?
Of the twenty factors that influence the success of partnerships, this is one of the most important.
Partners must understand and respect one another, including how they each operate, their values, their limitations and their expectations. If they lack a high level of trust at the beginning of a partnership, they should carefully and deliberately build trust during the first stage of their work, so that problems do not develop later on.

5. Is there an appropriate cross section of members?
A partnership should include representatives from each part of the community who will be affected by its activities. This will increase the feeling of “community ownership” and improve the flow of information to and from the partnership. It can also reduce the potential for resistance to the work of the partnership.

6. Do members see partnership working as being in their self-interest?
To increase the likelihood of success, collaborating partners must believe they will benefit from being involved in the partnership and that the advantages of membership will offset such costs as less independence and loss of “turf”.

7. Do members have the ability to compromise?
No relationship can succeed without compromise. People and organizations, even those with highly similar values and motives, have different interests and they do not always share the same opinions. Effective partnership working requires large and small compromises among all parties.

8. Do members share a stake in both process and outcome?
Partnerships often involve their members in determining outcomes or ends for their work. However, sometimes they fail to involve members in similar discussions of the means for achieving them.  This is a mistake. Successful partnerships enable participants to contribute to the design of both what the partnership will do and how it will do it

.9. Are staff involved in all layers? 
Organizations usually have multiple layers, for example, top management, middle management and operations. And organizations in successful partnerships tend to have representatives from every layer involved in some of the partnership’s activities.
Many of us can tell stories of initiatives “cooked up” in one part of an agency, with no involvement of staff in other parts of the agency. These initiatives have less potential to accomplish their goals and sustain themselves than initiatives in which staff throughout an organization participates.

10. Is there flexibility?
A partnership must be able to organize itself in different ways. Circumstances change and partners acquire new information and learn new ways of doing things. A partnership with one rigid set of operating procedures, or with a structure which it refuses to change, is less likely to flourish than one which remains flexible.

11. Are there clear roles and policy guidelines?
Collaborating partners should clearly understand their roles, rights and responsibilities, and how to carry out those responsibilities. It’s a good idea to put these down in writing. At the start of a partnership, members should discuss them. Over time they should review their understanding of them, too, to prevent inefficient operations and conflict.

12. Can the partnerships adapt to changing conditions?
This sounds like flexibility, but the emphasis differs. Adaptability refers to the capacity of a partnership to do more than just make internal changes or changes in its methods for accomplishing its goals.
Adaptability refers to the capacity of a partnership to assess changing community conditions and to make major alterations in response to those conditions, for example, by adding or eliminating partnering organizations if necessary, or by significantly changing a goal.

13. Is there an appropriate pace of development?
Sometimes, within a collaborative initiative, activities can move too quickly or too slowly or occur out of synch with one another. A partnership’s activities, as well as its structure and resources, should develop over time at a pace consistent with the capacity of the partnership to handle all that occurs in an efficient, effective manner.
If you have ever been in a situation where you and your partners have prepared yourselves to act, but you must delay because an authority has not yet dispersed funds you need to proceed. Or the opposite, where funds have arrived, along with a mandate to expend them by a certain date, but partners have not yet developed their plan of action. Then you know the importance of all partnering activities occurring at an appropriate, coordinated pace!

14. Is there open and frequent communication?
This is the other one of the two most important factors. Partners need to interact often, exchange information to one another, and have open, honest conversations regarding issues their partnership faces. Sometimes, communication gets off to a good start, but over time, with everyone busy, lapses occur. You should strive to maintain good communication throughout the entire life of a partnership.

15. Are there established informal relationships and communication links?
In addition to formal channels of communication, members of a partnership should have informal connections. This produces a better informed group as it reinforces trust and promotes good working relationships. Partners do not have to be close friends; however, their working together will be more effective if they take some social time before or after formal activities.

16. Are there concrete, attainable goals and objectives?
Partners must understand the goals and objectives. Most partnerships realize this. However, sometimes partnerships fail to realize the importance of having “attainable” goals both in the short-term and in the long-term.
The achievement of short-term goals builds enthusiasm and momentum for achieving long-term results. Collaborating organizations need to experience a progression of successes in order to sustain themselves.

17. Do partners have a shared vision?
Partners must share the same vision and agree on the “big picture” of what they want to achieve through their efforts. A shared vision serves as a reference point for decisions about goals and activities to accomplish goals. It also motivates partners to continue working through hard times or despite conflicts that might occur.

18. Does the partnership have a unique purpose?
What the partnership does should differ, at least in part, from what the partners do on their own. Research shows that partners can feel threatened if the work of a partnership corresponds identically to their work. They ask why we need to exist if the partnership can do it all.

19. Are there sufficient funds, staff, materials, and time?
A partnership requires money, materials, and people sufficient to support its operations and accomplish its goals. It also needs adequate time.

20. Is there sufficiently skilled leadership?
The leader(s) of a partnership must have good organizing and interpersonal skills, as well as knowledge of the community and of the subject area within which the partnership will work