Collaboration is not always easy - establish a positive working relationship!

The challenges that the world and its societies are facing can no longer be addressed by one sector alone. Increasingly, ‘collaborative governance’ is what is called for.

This is about organizations from different sectors – public, private and civil/third sector as well as academia and the media – working together to address pressing societal and environmental problems comprehensively and create systemic change.

Within organizations, collaboration is just as important to deliver on joint goals – and the possible challenges arising are exactly the same. Collaboration is not always easy, and it is sometimes risky to jump straight away into project management without first addressing mutual values, expectations, ways of working, use of language, understanding of time and deliverables, etc.

The key to effective partnering lies in establishing a positive initial working relationship based on familiarity and trust. Taking sufficient time for relationship-building ensures that both sides can then focus on operational project management, and that it will be easier to pick up the phone or meet face-to-face when important issues arise.

Approach

Developing a successful partnership involves more than simply contracting someone to deliver a service. It is important to respect each partner for what they bring to the table. Effective partnering is an “art” that requires good people skills – including the ability to listen well and engage personally – as well as management skills, efficient processes, and well-developed tools and frameworks.

If ever challenges in collaboration arise, it’s important to resolve problems together – e.g., through pre-agreed (bi-)annual collaboration review processes or through dialogue facilitated by a competent external mediator.

Partnerships rarely offer quick, comfortable, easy solutions; rather they require hard work and perseverance. However, when such partnerships are founded on mutual values, are well managed, and lead to sustainable outcomes, they are capable of achieving far more than one partner can achieve alone. 

My offer

I work with you and your partners to establish a good relationship from the outset and agree a partnering ‘soft contract’. I also help you work out challenges with each other and find a good and effective ‘way forward’ with each other.

As an associate of The Partnering Initiative at the International Business Leaders Forum in London, I have accompanied partnerships between business, government and civil society organizations, both as a facilitator and a mediator.

For example, I have worked with Nokia, E.ON, International Youth Foundation and its partner organizations in various countries, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Plan International, Leuchtpol gGmbH. As needed by your organization, I can also work together with colleagues from within my consulting, coaching and partnering network.

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