I am working on a couple of big partnership projects at the moment, both with their own challenges, and so I have been pondering the pros and cons of partnership working. As a positive, of course, you can bring together the skills, capacity and experiences of more than one organisation to deliver a better project: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
However, partnership working is not easy. Personalities can get in the way, organisations can become territorial or competitive, and, most of all, partners can feel like they are compromising their own ideals rather than coming together to deliver something bigger and better than they could have done on their own. At the root of this, I suspect partnerships are not established well in the first place. With good intentions, and perhaps to tick a funders’ boxes, partnership projects will sound like a good idea. But, right from the outset, every partner needs to earn their place. Why are they there? Whether their role is big or small, it needs to be defined. Once roles are clear and agreed the partnership can move forwards with a shared vision and, hopefully, deliver a really great project in the end.
A quick Google search has led me to these 7 tips for a successful business partnership. Although written for business, I think they apply well to voluntary sector projects too: