‘Partnership’ in the business context is a strategy, using collaborative working relationships between people and groups of individuals, to assist in achieving the organisation’s vision and business objectives.
(Note – A strategy is about identifying in which direction to go. Strategies work best when they are aligned with the visions and goals of the organisation. Gary Hamel a strategy guru states “Strategy comes from viewing the world in different ways. Strategy starts with an ability to think in new and unconventional ways”).
A partnership brings together organisational capabilities and human resources in the form of skills, expertise, collaborative behaviours and attitudes, experience and innovative ideas to tackle common problems and shared visions for the future.
In these, a successful way forward is often beyond the capacity of a single person, a single group or a single organisation. Partnerships are created and forged for joint problem solving, resources exchange, coordination and coalition building. The relationships can be temporary or permanent. It is now recognised that collaborative business partnerships can bring outstanding results in the progression of organisations.
A fulcrum of the partnership relationship is the question; “What can we do together that neither of us can do singularly?”
“A powerful partnership is created when there is chemistry, lots at stake in shared goals, regular interaction and disciplined intensity” Robert Hargrove in ‘Powerful Coaching’
The principles of partnership include –
- Mutuality – the partnership relations are open to dialogue and exchange views. Respect is of the utmost importance
- Solidarity – meaning sensitivity and commitment to the problems, efforts and constraints of the other partners. It implies a readiness and willingness to respond appropriately to varied needs. If one or more partners are only ‘doing the job’ without commitment, it will be difficult to tackle the real root issues or problems. Solidarity means response to real needs and constraints based upon respect and equality in the partner relationships.
- Trust – trust, reliability and dependability are three prime partnership elements because partnerships often cross many boundaries – interpersonal, inter-group or inter-department, cross cultural – mostly at the same time. Relationships are open to the risk of misunderstanding and there is a need for honesty and a clear expression of interest and aspiration on both sides.
- Accountability – any partnership involves rights and obligations. Challenges occur when one partner has the resources and the other has to ask for them, or one has the power to decided who gets funds and how much, and the other is accountable for their use.
Shared purpose – means the stated reasons for the existence of an organisation to which all partners of the business can commit. The purpose creates an emotional climate within which all the stakeholders operate and to which they want to commit. An example is Microsoft’s purpose – which is to ensure that ”a personal computer is on every desk of every home”. It is an over-arching reason that allows individuals to partner with others and have clarity on the reason why they are together and what their mutual outcomes are expected to be.
If you’re looking for the heart of a business, rather than its bottom line, purpose is it.
30 November 2015