- Remember Partnership is a process, not an event. You can kill a Partnership by just calling a meeting without proper advance work.
- Effective Partnerships are built on relationships of trust — take the time to get to know potential participants; who they are, what they do, their vision, etc. Listen hard!
- When a group does meet, they should be asked to explore just one key question at the beginning: “Is there anything we might do more effectively together on project XXX than if we continued to work independently? Would there be value in discussing/exploring this?”
- Effective Partnerships always initially set limited, achievable, high value objectives. Don’t try to do too much. But make sure what you choose to do has value to everyone and that there is a clear plan for how that objective will be realized — jointly. Remember that it is important that every values the Partnership and has a real sense of ownership!
- Celebrate diversity in unity. Partnerships have their greatest value when they link needed, valuable but different resources.
- Make sure you have a Champion for the vision in each participating church or community agency, and someone who can serve as the on-going Facilitator — helping the group work through issues, insures that each one responsible carries out their role, makes sure communication is regular and thorough — particularly on progress, key issues, and milestones.
- Make sure the Champion and/or Facilitator has met personally with everyone who has expressed interest in the vision. There needs to be time to get to know potential partners, their vision, and whether they agree with the value of jointly asking the questions outlined in #3 above.
- If you do decide to call a meeting, make sure everyone has a copy of the draft agenda of that exploration meeting in advance. Encourage feedback to the facilitation team prior to the initial meeting or, at a minimum, at the outset of the meeting.
- At the outset of the initial meeting make the limited objectives of the meeting very clear. Remember, the vision has to be compelling but you can’t try to do too much in the beginning when a group’s never worked together before! Make sure the group understands and is committed to that approach. Return to it at least mid-point and the end to see how you’re doing on you stated objective.
- A typical initial meeting takes time. Don’t try to do something of lasting value in one hour with a group that has never met before! Here are some of the things you will likely need to cover in that first meeting:
- Background to the meeting — the overall vision you’re exploring together.
- Allow each party to introduce themselves, something of their background, what they do and why they’re interested in the topic.
- What is the history on the issue being addressed? What is the current status of opportunity or need?
- What are the primary roadblocks keeping the vision from being realized?
- What might be potential action steps that could address the issue — together?
- Of the options for possible joint action, which would seem to be the most doable and have the highest impact?
- What action plan needs to be agreed? Who will do what, when will it be done, who will provide the communication/feedback for the group?