I have found myself across my working life heavily involved in partnerships. This started in BT with affinity partnerships through to full venturing, then in O2 with technology partnerships and alliances, and now in coaching particularly in systems coaching work in the public sector.
It is no longer a value add competency in business and organisational life, it's now part of core business. But to do partnerships well is really tricky. They are complicated, messy and often overblown in terms of potential and expectation, with delivery often far off the mark. So how to do them well? I offer my experience here, and have created the 'Partnership 7+6 Mindset Model' as an enabling lens for partnership leaders.
Jenny Campbell, director of lifetimeswork, introduces the 'Partnership 7+6 Mindset Model'. This is the model that encompasses the leadership mindset for creating high impact partnerships,
The Essence of Partnership Working
It is my experience that the heart of partnerships is based on 3 dimensions: Power, Trust and Impact. And they all must be in balance in order for the partnership to actually create impact in a sustainable way.
- Power does not have to be equal in the partnership; it does however have to be transparent.
- Trust that there is genuine common purpose in order to overcome any setbacks is critical.
- And finally, seeking real impact (and not just great process) is the absolute unlocking factor for creating energy in a partnership.
The Complexity of Partnerships Accounted For
There are many forms of partnerships, and many forms of drivers for their initiation. In particular I recommend accounting for 3 dimensions:
- Geographical scale. Health partnerships operating in Canada have a vastly different set of challenges than a local or regional health partnership in the UK
- Structure. Affinity or project partnerships are the simplest, formed for a particular time or output, and often not burdened by longer term relationships or legal requirements. At the other end of the scale are joint ventures and mergers, very complex deals most often found in the private sector but that do exist in public sector, which take an immense amount to initiate and then complete for full value to be released. Structures can often hinder partnerships because of the strategic constraints set upon them; in the public sector these are often governmental constraints.
- The complexity of the outcomes sought is the last driver. Single focus partnerships are much simpler; partnerships with complex or emerging sets of aims are complicated beasts that need special attention.
The Partnership 7+6 Mindset Model
Go into partnerships with a wise head - know that many end up in a process trap but without delivering any impact. Leading partnerships take an integrated set of attitudes and skills that is sophisticated and mature. Be ready to build, maintain and live partnership values within the partnership boundaries, and outwith the boundaries - back in your home organisation and in your networks. Leading partnerships is tough, but preparing for these using the lifetimeswork Partnership 7+6 Mindset Model will help you navigate partnerships successfully.
The emphasis on systems coaching and enablement was vital to the success of the IRF work. The expertise brought to this work by Jenny Campbell and Malcolm Young was both challenging and stretching, and contributed significantly to a growing sense of trust and maturity across the partners involved
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Sponsors of the lifetimeswork Team Resilience Research. Come and join!
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Jenny Campbell & Anne Archer speak on Resilience at ICF Global 2012
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