Friday, 22 February 2013

A partnership must be both predictable and unpredictable

In order to gain support and build trust a partnership needs to be predictable. It needs to set reassuringly worthwhile objectives and use consistent, tried and tested ways of working that will help it achieve them. In many ways it needs to be quite traditional in the way it presents itself and its activities.
But many partnerships do not really know what they can achieve, or how they might best go about it, until the various partners have started working together. For this reason a partnership’s activities and goals can and should be subject to unpredictability. In short, a partnership needs to be not only credible and reassuring but also creative and dynamic.    

Case study

Leeds City Council worked with various partners to set up a system of ‘Youth Hubs’. These created central points that offered a range of services to young people. The project needed to be professionally run and compliant with good practice in order to attract funding. It also needed to gain the involvement of young people so that they would feel some ownership of the hubs’ activities and therefore be encouraged to take advantage of the services on offer. 

To obtain funds it was important to prepare and submit bids that were compliant with the funders’ requirements, but the proposals contained within the bids needed to be attractive and meaningful to the young people who would benefit from the hubs’ services. 

Rather than merely consulting young people for their views the project made young people partners in the endeavour and asked them to take the lead in writing and presenting the bids. They were offered help and support with the bidding process, but the ideas and approaches contained within the bids were generated, developed and presented by the young people themselves. 

The bids were successful, the hubs were set up and young people began using the services. 

The success of this project was due to its ability to marry predictable, compliant and consistent good practice with the unpredictable, less compliant creativity of young people.
For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition

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Friday, 8 February 2013

Bite-size pieces: use the delphi technique

This technique is especially useful for partnerships that are widely spread geographically. An e-mail is sent to all those involved in the partnership asking them to evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership so far and identify those aspects that they think are of most significance. Then all the replies are collated and put into list form. These lists are then sent out to the same people as before, asking them to reply with their top ten most significant items. These replies are again collated and listed. These lists of ‘top ten’ items are sent out to the same people again, with an additional request that they reply with their top three items. This process of collecting, collating, disseminating and filtering responses can be repeated as many times as is deemed appropriate and useful. 

For maximum effectiveness this exercise needs to be followed by a meeting or conference that brings together all those who have contributed their ideas. They can then discuss and analyse the results in detail and think about ways to address the key issues identified.

For more about this technique go to 

Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.