Partnership Typology enhances programme success

A partnership typology  highlights the partners that can transform your success and simplifies and reduces the administrative burden of working with others.       

When Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations said, ‘When governments, the United Nations, businesses, philanthropies and civil society work hand-in-hand, we can achieve great things’, he was telling a great truth. . He was perhaps also glossing over the huge amount of work that setting up and developing these partnerships involves.

Our experience is that clients who have many ‘partnerships’, often spread around the globe, can find their days drained of purpose by administration to keep them going, responding to partners’ (sometimes not very important) requests and trying to get less biddable ones to deliver. This leaves little room for thinking big, identifying the relationships that can help that transformation, and still less for making change happen.

So that’s where partnership typology comes in as a way of separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff etc (add metaphor of your choice). In fact it’s a bit cleverer than that as it typically uses a bespoke matrix to separate partners into types according to the type of relationship and the assistance that they can deliver.

This classification requires both research into the nature of the relationships and clear thinking. Examining the relationships often reveals truths that had been forgotten or never really appreciated. Typically a number of relationships aren’t equal ‘partnerships’ at all, they are more or less transactional. Academic institutions and professional bodies, for example, may be funded for some development work or contribute to an impressive paper. Part of this service may be to have their name and logo associated with the material – and so ‘partnership’ is a much more acceptable public face of the relationship for both sides. In reality though, the relationship is essentially commercial – they provide a service in return for money.

All sorts of other groups from civil society groups to for-profits who are contracted to provide a service come under the same umbrella. These relationships often evolve organically rather than as part of a detailed plan, and so are governed by a range of agreements, contracts and MOUs and treated in a variety of ways. By using a partnership typology to group them together administration can be simplified, and as far as possible automated so that precious thinking and development time is not wasted in areas where there is very limited potential.

Other groups may be ‘critical friends’, or even just ‘friends’, who have helped the project along without payment. This is not always their preferred financial relationship. When we pointed out that a ‘friend’ of one of our clients had been helping them for years in the hope of eventually getting paid in some way they quickly arranged a payment – making their friend even happier and more cooperative.

At the other end of the spectrum are the partners that require nurturing to deliver to their very real development potential. At first pass some of these groups or individuals are far from obvious, but that can be because not enough time was available to work with them to explore how they can help, and indeed why they should.

Thinking time released by simplifying the management of the more contractual relationships can be used to explore opportunities with these few key partners, work on joint solutions and genuinely pool resources.

The result of the partnership typology is a much more productive way of working in which creative and relationship-building skills are put to best use; cooperation is developed more quickly and productively; and the team responsible for the work put firmly back in the driving seat.
If you would like to find out more about how to manage your partners better, do get in touch

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