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This is the 4th of 9 units of CPFOA’s Partnership Evolution by Mike Winer of 4Results Together
For partnerships to evolve effectively, the partners must be willing to invest in achieving the desired results. And partners are much more likely to invest their assets—time, energy, knowledge, skills, money and connections— when they believe they will receive a return on investment (ROI) from their contributions.
ROI implies risk since a full return may not be achieved. This is especially true when the desired impact—for example, meeting the needs of older adults—is large, complex and long-term. Yet the risk can be reduced, just like monetary investments, through managing growth and demonstrating performance. Partners manage growth in a collaborative effort when they pool investments from everyone involved. The partners also demonstrate performance when the collaboration shows accomplishment by everyone involved.
Investment growth occurs through the contribution of personal and organizational assets that become resources for achieving results. Even though the investments by individuals and organizations may not be equal, each member makes an equitable contribution that must be recognized by the other partners. The pooled investments spread the overall risk and reduce it for any individual member.
Managing growth by spreading the risk of investment and demonstrating progress by reporting accomplishments requires evaluation. Yet evaluation is seen by many as a dry subject: filling out forms, sending in all the “right” reports and crunching data. Evaluation can also be stressful, since it may involve responding to other people’s criteria, being observed by strangers and, in some instances, even result in determining a project’s success or failure.
Yet the only way partners can know how their investments are growing and how well they are performing is to continually evaluate growth and accomplishments—from the very beginning. In this way, members see what is being accomplished and if it is worth the resources being used. Evaluation thus shows how the pool of investments is increasing resources/asset contributions (i.e., growth) and how the demonstration of accomplishments is achieving desired impacts (i.e., performance).
Evaluation also allows the partners to reduce risk by adjusting their investments as they go along. If the pool of investments is not growing though contributions and if the effort is not demonstrating performance, stakeholders can withdraw before the losses accumulate. And others who might invest need not do so.
All told, evaluation keeps a partnership’s desired impact and specific outcomes top of mind, allowing partners to stay focused on what they are trying to achieve as they monitor progress. Evaluation, in the form of a strategic map of desired impact and specific outcomes, thus is a potent tool for maintaining a commitment to the cause and for bringing others into the fold. As you create a strategic map, follow these four guidelines: