> Partnership Evolution
> Incorporating Self-interests
Successful partnerships recognize that self-interest is the prime mover of people and that power is eroded when differences are suppressed. You want the differences inherent in separate self-interests working for the partnership, not against it.
The group discussions cited in the previous section are a non-confrontational way of starting to get at the issue.
Here’s a second approach: Ask members to chart their self-interests, both personal and organizational. Lay down the ground rule that what they write down does NOT have to be revealed to the group.
Some individuals and/or the organizations they represent might have political ambitions, others might be after money, some might feel it’s better to participate than be left out, while others want greater media exposure. On the other hand, some people may not even be able to express their self-interest.
Sure, the partners want to make a difference for older adults in the community, but they also want to make a difference for themselves. This is really what self-interests boil down to.
When you ask people in the partnership to chart their own self-interests, take them through a two-step process:
Step one: Review the fact that outside influences impact each person and organization. Generally, these influences can be grouped into five categories:
These forces operate both on the personal/family level and on the work/organizational level. So it’s no wonder that everyone has to cope with them well beyond the partnership.
Step two: Have each person complete the chart Owning Our Own Interests. Remind people that they don’t have to reveal their personal or organizational self-interests to the group. This exercise helps
establish that if and when it’s appropriate to deal with self-interests, partners will have a greater awareness of what theirs are and how the group will handle them.
Remember, partners will never reveal all of their self-interests — people just aren’t like that. Everyone is skeptical of someone else’s motivations. But the more you can help partners feel comfortable about disclosing their self-interests, the fewer agendas will be hidden over time.