So the tendency is to plunge into the work: meet together, determine community needs, plan, implement and coordinate services, and so forth. Many partnerships nonetheless flounder or fail. Why? They don’t lay the necessary groundwork.
Whether you are changing the focus of an existing partnership, strengthening what you are presently doing or forming a new collaboration, the groundwork must be laid to succeed.
This section presents four essential strategies to ensure your partnership has the foundation it needs over time. The four strategies are:
Testing Underlying Assumptions
Test underlying assumptions asks you to look at the basic assumptions you hold for forming or sustaining the partnership. These beliefs — such as that all agencies involved must be represented at the collaboration table, or that many older adults have to be involved in the governance structure — drive the formation and work of the partnership. If tested and found valid, they underpin your effectiveness. If untested and invalid, they can sink your work.
Understand Influences on Partners
Understand influences on partners urges you to pay attention to the social, financial, political, environmental and technological forces that affect each member of the partnership. Not acknowledging these outside influences can keep partners focused on their own problems, rather than fully engaged in the partnership. Taking time to listen to “where people are” helps them move to where you want them to be.
Prepare for Growth
Prepare for growth recognizes that effective partnerships must build strong, trusting relationships among members. And that takes time. By paying attention to four essential relationship factors upfront, partnerships will ultimately have more time to devote to core issues.
Manage Partners’ Risk
Manage partners’ risk shows that it takes risk—including time, reputation and money—to build partnerships. This strategy provides ways to assess the contributions needed from every member against the likely payoff each will receive. Only when members can see a strong return on their investment will they wholeheartedly go forward.