By Jocelyne Daw
As we discussed in our previous article, partnerships vary in complexity and depend heavily on establishing strong working relationships between people who work in different arenas and cultures. Developing partnerships and then managing them to deliver shared and individual goals is a delicate balancing act.Building partnerships can be both exciting and frustrating. The challenge is to form robust partnerships that move as quickly and seamlessly as possible from exploration to project design and implementation to achieving the desired goals. How can this been done in a way that builds on the values, integrity and strength of all the partners?At JS Daw & Associates we strongly believe in the value of Partnership Brokers to build successful partnerships. A Partnership Broker (PB) can either be an internal person who works for one of the partnering organizations, or it can be an individual(s) who takes the lead in guiding the partnership, but remains external to the relationship.Working with a Partnership Broker is essential to providing a solid foundation and getting the partnership working to the point the partners are operating effectively – so much so that the PB essentially works themselves out of the equation.Partnership Brokering is a new and growing field of practice that is increasing vital as we recognize that one sector alone can no longer address critical societal issues that affect us all. Deep and impactful partnerships are vital to achieving social change and delivering the social innovation essential in today’s complex and interdependent world.As more organizations are taking on multi-stakeholder partnerships, it is easy to assume that there is a well-treaded path. But this is not the case. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are complex, and each one is unique. However intimidating this may seem, there is a framework and process that can be used to ensure multi-stakeholder partnerships thrive and have the conditions needed for social innovation. A Partnership Broker can play in key role in steering and facilitating along the way.What is a Partnership Broker?A Partnership Broker (PB) acts as a convener of different organizations and/or sectors in order to enhance innovation and collaboration. According to the UK-based Partnership Brokers Association (PBA), “Partnership brokers are individuals or organizations that support multi-stakeholder partnerships at local, national and international levels enabling them to better achieve their sustainable development goals”.The PBA is an international organization dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable world by building capacity for innovation, efficiency and excellence in cross sector collaboration (partnershipbrokers.org). PB’s facilitate and guide partners through the partnering cycle.The Partnering Cycle The Partnership Cycle, developed by The Partnership Initiative, is a schematic framework that provides the progression of a partnership over time.* Copyright: The Partnering Initiative (reproduced with permission)Each phase of the partnering cycle benefits from the support of a Partnership Broker. The descriptions below provide insights into the critical role that they can play in each phase:Scoping & BuildingDuring the Scoping & Building phase of the partnering the cycle, the broker may initiate the partnership, scope the possibilities for initiatives and potential partners, start to build relationships and manage expectations. The outcome sought for this phase is helping the partners identify, co-create and plan the partnership.Managing & MaintainingAt this stage, the Partnership Broker works with the partners to secure the resource commitments, organize governance and communications, and determine the baselines for outcomes measurement. The desired outcomes from this phase include a governance and communication framework as well as deepening organizational engagement.Reviewing & RevisingThis phase of the partnership requires the PB to seek agreement on the measurement and evaluation plan, while providing the opportunity for the partners to review and adjust the partnership as necessary. The outcomes achieved from this phase should include a solid review of partnership efficiency to create a refined partnership plan with added value.Sustaining OutcomesThe PB helps to determine if the partnership has completed it’s goals and the partners are ready to move on, or, in finding ways to ensure that the outcomes of the partnerships’ activities are sustained. No matter what the overall outcome is, it is important to recognize and celebrate achievements.The Value of a Partnership BrokerPartnership Brokers (PB) are skilled at convening and facilitating valuable communication between diverse groups of people. PB’s have the ability to inspire others to use their shared values to develop project commitment and solve problems. They create space for innovation by building understanding and trust. For example, Math Minds is a three way partnerships to enhance early math numeracy, which was brokered by JS Daw & Associates. An article on this dynamic multi-sectoral partnership can be found on our website.Over the past several months, we have looked at different types of partnerships from cause marketing and sponsorship based relationships to deeper program and outcomes based partnerships. We have introduced Partnership Brokering and the Partnering Cycle. Stay tuned for the last article in our Partnership Series as JS Daw & Associates makes an exciting announcement!