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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?   (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.   (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! (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? (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? (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. (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?  (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? (more…)

10 Real Signs of Partnership

Jocelyne Daw with Yeshe Smith

Since I started my consulting firm over seven years ago, partnership – brokering, coaching, training and advocating for them, has been a central part of my practice.  But sadly, partnership has become a blanket phase to describe many “business as usual” organizational relationships.  It is beginning to lose its true meaning.  This is especially disillusioning when the term ‘partnership’ is used as a soother, a calmative, to disguise the real challenge and struggle of collaborating meaningfully. Here are ten signs you’re in a true partnership NOT just another traditional relationship.
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