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Partnerships Move at the Speed of Trust: One Thing That Changes EVERYTHING

Organizations are no longer built on force, but on trust. – Peter Drucker

Trust is a core, foundational principle in partnership work. It’s truly a place where partnership will soar or get stuck if trust is not strong. Trust doesn’t just happen. It has to be earned and maintained and when done well, trust can be more valuable than gold.

The good news is that trust isn’t a quality you either have or you don’t.   It’s a learnable skill.  Teams and organizations that operate with high trust significantly outperform those who do not cultivate trust at the core of their culture.

So how do you learn to build trust? What are the core tenets of creating trust? How can you put these tenets into actionable behaviours?

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey provides a roadmap for trust building that will be invaluable to any partnership broker or person working in partnerships.  He starts by describing trust in basic terms: “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust – distrust – is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them – in their integrity and their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them – of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It’s that simple.”

The Speed Of Trust not only explains the economics of trust, but also shows how to cultivate great trust in yourself and your relationships. The book defines the five levels (called waves), or contexts, in which trust is established. It also forms the structure for understanding and making trust actionable.

First Wave: Self Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility

Second Wave: Relationship Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behaviour.

Third Wave: Organizational Trust. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create structures, systems and symbols of organizational trust.

Fourth Wave: Market Trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation.

Fifth Wave: Societal Trust. The principle underlying this wave is contribution.

Understanding these waves will enable you to see, speak and behave in ways that establish trust, allowing you to become a leader who gets results by inspiring trust in yourself and in others.

Because trust is so important here is the link to the full book summary of The Speed of Trust from Executive Book Summaries.  I encourage you to print, study and implement the actions outlined in the book.   Your partnerships will soar and deepen at the speed of your trust building.


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Partnerships and Polarity Management

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” –  F. Scott Fitzgerald.

We all tend to see the difficulties we encounter at work and in life in general as problems we must solve. We come by this tendency honestly through formal education and through learned experience where we told to look for “the answer” to our problems. This is often the case in partnerships where we constantly look to solve the complex challenges of working together.  But is this possible and even in the best interests of building effective and impactful partnerships?   Read more…

Embracing Inherent Partnership Tensions

This past spring I participated in a conference on “Inherent Tensions in Networks”. The main theme was get comfortable with being uncomfortable when working in partnerships. When I work with partners I use a diversity of concepts and methods to support and enhance their work, including design and systems thinking and group dynamics. But “Polarity Thinking”, is one framework I use regularly. Like yin and yang, polarities are interdependent values that support each other.   Read more…

New Millennial Engagement Research

By Jocelyne Daw and Richard Janzen

Every nonprofit or community-minded organization is looking to pass the torch to the next generation, finding someone to take up “The Cause” and continue the good work. This work is vitally important to building and maintaining communities, helping the disadvantaged, and connecting us with like-minded people.  Millennials are a key target. They care about their community already.  So the question is not why engage them or what to do when they become involved. The real question is how do you most effectively engage and keep Millennials engaged?  Read more…

Reflections On My Partnership Brokers Training

Guest Blog – Rebecca Aird, Director Grants and Community Knowledge, Ottawa Community Foundation

In February this year, I participated in a 4-day training course by the Partnership Brokers Association. Participants included reps from post-secondary institutions, government agencies, funders, and not-forprofit organizations.  To begin on a personal level, the course helped affirm my sense of the necessity and potential for more enlightened approaches to collaboration, and greater intentionality and sophistication in pursuing multi-dimensional benefits. It’s hard to say more about the course without saying a lot more. But the explicit emphasis on courage, equity, transparency, and trust was so well modeled by everyone throughout the course that it strengthened my optimism and resolve! Read more…

Conditions for Effective Partnerships

By Jocelyne Daw

Everyone talks about partnership. But talking about collaboration isn’t the same as doing it. Genuine collaboration is hard, especially when it requires working across sectors and systems. Ineffective partnerships can be wasteful and challenge traditional power dynamics. It can be regarded more as a charming concept than as a legitimate practice to improve outcomes. Partnering isn’t the clear answer to every problem.   Partnerships must add value and create positive outcomes. To be effective, partnering must create a whole that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. So what does it take to build deep and meaningful partnerships that will drive system-wide change? Read more…

Shifting the Funder’s Partnership Paradigm

Donors increasingly play a critical role in funding cross-sector collaborations.  In fact, many require “partnerships” for funding to be provided. They rightly belief partnerships can be innovative, far reaching, scalable and sustainable. But donors often struggle to appreciate the challenges and hard work involved in true partnerships.   And while their intentions are genuine, practice suggests funder driven partnerships have often stifled rather than optimized multi-stakeholder collaborations. How can donors shift their support to help partnerships achieve ambitious and transformational goals? Read more…

The time is now. Cross-sector collaboration as a ‘seed’ for renewing the world.

This is a guest blog from a good friend and a fellow Partnership Broker, Michelle Halse from Living Collaborations.

“Partnering and collaboration are critical… if we are to create a more inclusive and sustainable world.”

It is not a not a lone voice making this claim.

I’d even venture to say the idea – that cross-sector collaboration is required to address the challenges facing the world – is just about mainstream.

Which is not to say we’ve all worked out how to do it. Read more…

Diversity in Partnerships Is Uncomfortable – And That’s Good!

By Jocelyne Daw

In the coming years the community landscape will look dramatically different. Growing demands on resources and increasingly complexity of issues will require bridging traditional and untraditional boundaries to create powerful partnerships for social change. As a result, diversity will be inevitable. As different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives get blended, cognitive diversity will increase. Cognitive diversity is defined as the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes. This diversity drives innovation and is critical to better serve the community. So, how do you make sure your partnerships embrace diversity?  Read more…

Four Steps to Building a Strong Partnership Culture

By Jocelyne Daw

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is management guru, Peter Drucker’s most famous quote.  Nowhere is this truer than in partnerships. Partners work across organizations and sectors and must adapt to diverse approaches and styles. More often than not, focus is put on building project strategies but not on HOW the project goals will be achieved  – through a culture and mindset of collaboration. The soft stuff is always the hard stuff.  So how do you create a partnership culture to drive success? Read more…