Tuesday, 29 November 2011

3 qualities needed for great partnerships

I was recently at a British Council event that was looking at how great partnerships can be built. I believe that strong partnerships is a key to growing a successful organisation, as I wrote in my blog on the 8Ps of Powerful Social Innovation. I've spent a lot of time building partnerships between different organisations; charitable foundations, corporates, governments, charities and social enterprises. I recently wrote about the time I'd spent in Kenya working with a water well drilling social enterprise. A partnership that I'm really proud of is the one I helped broker between Johnson & Johnson and Nurse First which was profiled at last week's Good Deals Conference. I'm also working to support social entrepreneurs build international partnerships through the trade missions that I'm running with United Kingdom Trade & Investment and Big Society Network. The conclusions at the British Council event were that three qualities were needed for a great partnership to work:
  • Trust: Building a relationship of trust between the people leading and working on the partnership is key. When you're not working within the same organisation, you need to rely on the other person to do what they say. As importantly, being sure that they act in a way that you are comfortable with when dealing with external and internal stakeholders is key!
  • A support for each other's objectives: This was really clearly articulated by the Nurse First project leader, Dave Dawes; he said the future of corporate responsible was "social enterprises & large corporates achieving objectives together not just giving out excess profits. Mark Lloyd Davies, Senior Director, UK & Ireland at Johnson and Johnson stated that he believed that "social enterprises and corporates will increasingly collaborate to meet both their companies' objectives". Without a recognition that partnership is a two-way street, one party will undoubtedly feel let down;
  • Mutual respect of abilities and values: One of the key reasons that the Johnson & Johnson and Nurse First partnership is working so well is that there is a strong mutual respect between the two partners in terms of their abilities and values. Both organisations believe in what the other is trying to do socially AND commercially.

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