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Sunday 23 March 2014

What is the long-term future of partnership and collaborative working?

What do you think the future shape of partnership working will be, say in the next 5 to 10 years?

My thoughts, in no particular order, are:

It will become more fragmented with partnerships having to take on increasingly diverse forms, roles and partners in order to interact effectively with the ever more complex world they operate within. We will enter an era of 'patchwork partnering', with partnerships less worried about form and more about substance, about getting the right resources and people together at the right time in order to achieve the right things.   
The more diverse and fragmented partnership working becomes the more diverse and widespread will become the opportunities for conflict. Strong but diverse partnerships will naturally come into conflict with each other, competing with each other for resources, new opportunities, supporters and 'breathing space'. 'Councils of Partnership Leaders' will be created in an attempt to manage an increasingly complex and volatile collaborative environment. This will lead to the formation of 'partnerships of partnerships'.
Partnerships and collaborations will form, operate and disperse very quickly, mirroring a world that is no longer slowly evolving but aggressively mutating into something new.
Cloud or 'virtual' partnerships will operate globally to solve significant issues and problems locally or nationally.
New, group-orientated approaches to communication, decision making and the leadership of partnerships will be adopted. (Flock Thinking is one approach that will become increasingly popular.)
Partnerships will make way for cooperative social enterprises (this is already happening) and a business ethos will dominate their approaches. This will be accompanied by a greater awareness of the power and importance of publicity in gaining political influence and support. Social enterprises will grow in power and become as politically and economically influential as banks and other 'big business'.
A new breed of collaborative worker will appear. They will have highly developed skills in creative thinking and problem solving. In essence, they will be triple rather than binary thinkers. They will not think in terms of right or wrong, or good or bad. They will think in terms of right, wrong and 'maybe'. They will identify what is new, interesting or unique about a situation and find ways to exploit it.
Partnerships will seek to engage with and involve those they are trying to help. They will focus on local accountability and involvement, but find that increasingly scarce resources and pressure to achieve economies of scale hinder their progress. This is where the triple thinking abilities of the new collaborative worker, and the meditation skills of the 'Council of Leaders', will demonstrate their value.
Partnerships will begin to label themselves positively rather than negatively. They will no longer describe themselves as solving difficult issues and problems, but as the pioneers of more advanced thinking and the early adopters of new and improved systems and methods.      
As collaborative working can be expensive and risky 'partnership proofing' will become the norm. Before any collaborative initiative is entered into potential partners will ask themselves if the outcomes envisaged can be delivered collaboratively. They will find out if all the significant stakeholders engage with and own the initiative. They will ask if they and others are ready, willing and able to work in partnership. If the answer to any of these questions is no they will postpone or cancel their involvement.

For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition


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