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The Pocket Guide to Partnership summarizes the process and principle...
The Pocket Guide to Partnership summarizes the process and principles lead...
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The Pocket Guide to Partnership


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The Pocket Guide to Partnership summarizes the process & principles leading to effective, multi-lateral, missional partnerships that will enable Christian organizations to accomplish together what could never be done alone.

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The Pocket Guide to Partnership

  1. 1. THE POCKET GUIDE TO PARTNERSHIP: STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS The Pocket Guide to Partnership summarizes the process and principles leading to effective, multi-lateral, missional partnerships that will enable Christian organizations to accomplish together what could never be done alone. For more information, visit: STAGES STAGE 1 : EXPLORATION Exploration discovers if a partnership is even feasible. Identify and meet individually with potential partners, discuss a vision for working together, and explore their readiness to at least talk about partnership. STAGE 2 : FORMATION Organize a meeting or a series of meetings for potential partners to build consensus around key issues, priorities, and possible action steps. Make the "yes/no" decision - whether or not to move forward together as a partnership. STAGE 3 : OPERATION The partnership moves forward to accomplish its purpose. Set goals, define roles, and agree on timelines and points for evaluation. Turn talk into action. STEPBYSTEP The purpose of the Exploration stage is to meet with individuals who are influential or interested in the ministry area that concerns you. Throughout this process, look for a positive interest around two key questions: (1) “Do you think there is anything that might be accomplished more effectively if the various groups worked together rather than each working independently?” (2) “If other groups are interested in exploring possible partnership, would you want to be part of those discussions?” 1. Knowledge. Broaden and deepen your knowledge of the field or specific challenge. 2. Connections. Find out who is influential, involved, and interested in this area. 3. Interviews. Conduct a series of informational interviews with as many of these people as possible. Keep all personal or ministry “issues” confidential. Everyone must trust you. 4. Interest. Evaluate the readiness of others to meet and explore the possibility of collaboration. When the time is right, move towards a formation meeting. The purpose of the Formation stage is not to FORM a partnership; it is to explore the POSSIBILITY of a partnership. The goal of this initial meeting is to work toward consensus through a series of key questions and then ultimately make a “yes/no” decision to form a partnership. 1. Consensus – questions for potential partners * Introductions: Who are you? What do you do? What is your motivation/vision? * Key questions: What is the challenge/concern that brings us together? What is the context of the current situation? What are the primary obstacles to breakthroughs? What are potential solutions to these obstacles? 2. Commitment – the critical decision * Move forward together as a partnership: Yes or No? 3. Planning – form a tentative plan * If yes, celebrate and determine initial responsibilities, timetables, communications, and points for evaluation. If no, celebrate positive points, highlight key issues for further discovery, and see if the group is willing to meet again. The purpose of the Operation stage is to organize the partnership for action around your common goals. Develop open communication, broad participation, and a sense of shared ownership. The partnership belongs to all the partners. The Operation stage will look different for different kinds of partnerships. Here are the general activities that should happen in this stage: 1. Organize for action & work toward objectives 2. Evaluate & document progress 3. Communicate with new & existing partners 4. Plan for future partnership meetings 5. Address operational issues but stay focused on the primary goals SIGNSOFSUCCESS 1. Clarity. You understand the important issues in the field. You know who is influential, involved, and interested. You know how they individually view the situation. 2. Connections. You are the person who gets to know everyone. You have an idea of who could potentially serve as the future Facilitator for the operating partnership (might be you or someone else). 3. Common interest. You are aware of the level of mutual interest - whether or not there is enough to move to the next stage. 1. Confidence. Your group of partners have grown to trust both the people and process of working together. They are advocates or "champions" for partnership who see the benefit for the Kingdom as well as their own ministries. 2. Consensus. Your partners have developed a consensus around the big vision, the major obstacles, the key priorities, and the potential solutions. 3. Commitment. Your partners have made a definitive "yes" decision to work together on defined objectives in the context of a big vision. 1. Groups. The partnership is organized for action with active participation in smaller working groups. Partners are actively communicating with each other. 2. Goals. You see tangible progress on your agreed objectives in light of your big vision. 3. Gathering. You have a plan to meet again as a whole partnership to review progress and plan for the future. 4. Growth. Your initial success encourages the partnership to do more together. Working groups and objectives expand. PITFALLS NO TIME The Exploration stage will likely fail if little time is given to conducting research, building relationships, and listening to others. A common mistake is to rush through the Exploration stage and simply call a meeting without adequate preparation. NO TRUST The Formation stage will likely fail if potential partners do not trust one another and do not develop a consensus of understanding. A common mistake is to simply assume a partnership will be formed and present a pre-determined vision rather than develop the vision through discussion and consensus. NO TASK The Operation stage will likely fail if the leadership does not motivate the partnership to accomplish actual work toward the common goals. A common mistake is to become distracted by “internal” issues of structure, budgets, meetings, etc. and lose sight of the primary vision. KEYROLES CATALYST The Catalyst is the person or team with the initial vision for the potential of a partnership. The Catalyst is the one who builds the credibility and connections that can draw others together. The Catalyst(s) build a network of relationships, identify interest, and cast a vision for working together. CHAMPION The Champions are the individuals representing ministries or organizations in the partnership. They advocate for the partnership within their own organizations or wider spheres of influence. FACILITATOR The Facilitator is the person or team who provides operational leadership for the partnership. The Facilitator and Catalyst might be the same person. The Facilitator is often loaned to the partnership by a partner organization to serve in a neutral role to coordinate the activities of the partnership. Facilitators keep the partnership focused on the big vision and all active elements working together. CORECOMPETENCIES RESEARCH Catalysts conduct thorough research in order to better understand the ministry area and its challenges, become aware of work already going, identify potential partners, and strengthen their own credibility in relationship with these other leaders. CONSENSUS Champions work through consensus to develop a sense of common ownership. They decide together whether or not to move forward as a partnership. They encourage consensus-based decision-making. They come to agreement around the big vision, the primary obstacles or challenges, and the achievable objectives that can be accomplished together. COMMUNICATION The partnership Facilitator is attentive to the many partners involved. Facilitators foster frequent, interactive communication among the partners. They keep progress visible for all participants - widening the breadth and depth of commitment and strengthening trust in the process of working together. RELATIONSHIPS Catalysts develop a network of relationships with a significant number of those who are influential, already involved, or sincerely interested in the common ministry concern. Catalysts take the time to make connections, build trust, and listen carefully to others. COMMITMENT Champions work to secure commitment from their own organizations or spheres of influence. They clearly see the benefit of the partnership for themselves and/or their organizations. They advocate for the partnership vision among their own colleagues and associates. They secure commitment from others in order to contribute knowledge, talent, and other resources. IMPLEMENTATION Facilitators keep the focus of the partnership on results while strengthening personal relationships. They effectively organize and motivate the partnership to work together on specific objectives through various action groups. DISCERNMENT Catalysts constantly listen to God in prayer and discern how the individual calling of each potential partner can connect to a compelling vision of what can be done together. Catalysts are attentive to the level of interest among all potential partners to determine if the time is right to call a meeting of all potential partners. FACILITATION Good facilitation of the formation meeting(s) by the Catalyst(s) is critical to the successful launch of a partnership. Likewise, Champions who lead discussion groups, working groups, or other meetings are good facilitators of group discovery and decision-making. EVALUATION Facilitators constantly evaluate the partnership with regard to the process (how well the partners are working together) as well as the results (what the partners are actually accomplishing). They create regular reports that keep all partners informed and encouraged.
  2. 2. THE POCKET GUIDE TO PARTNERSHIP: KEY PRINCIPLES The Pocket Guide to Partnership summarizes the process and principles leading to effective, multi-lateral, missional partnerships that will enable Christian organizations to accomplish together what could never be done alone. For more information, visit: PURPOSE PRAYER Effective partnerships are committed to continual prayer and seeking the direction of God in all they do. Strong partners understand that it is the intention of Satan to destroy relationships, fragment the partnership, and neutralize the effectiveness of their work. An effective partnership seeks the presence, power, and provision of the Spirit of God through prayer and communion together – intentionally soliciting prayer from others outside the partnership. Strong partners who have spent time together in prayer listen and respond to the direction of God. VISION Effective partnerships are driven by a compelling and commonly-owned vision. A strong partnership vision will energize, motivate, and challenge each participant in the partnership. It must be compelling and larger than the capacity of any one individual or single organization. The vision must also be commonly-owned and connect to the individual values or goals of each participant. Partnership merely for the sake of partnership is meaningless. Partnership must have a larger purpose. OBJECTIVES Effective partnerships begin with limited and achievable objectives which expand as the partnership experiences success. An effective partnership is driven by a big vision, but does not attempt to do too much too soon. An effective partnership focuses first on defined objectives that are both valuable to all the participants and have a reasonably high possibility of short-term success. This positive experience demonstrates the capacity of the partnership to realize change through its efforts – leading to greater confidence, increasing hope, and a willingness to pursue broader and more challenging objectives. PEOPLE FACILITATOR Effective partnerships have a committed Facilitator who serves the operation of the whole partnership. The partnership Facilitator is a person - or a team of people - approved by the partnership to help facilitate its operation. This person is dedicated to the big vision and the process of working together - serving in a neutral role for the common good. An effective partnership values the contribution of the Facilitator(s) and provides for their resources, training, and encouragement. CHAMPIONS Effective partnerships have an advocate, or “Champion,” within each partner organization. A partnership Champion is a person who clearly sees how their own organization can benefit from practical collaboration. This person promotes the vision of the partnership among their own colleagues and facilitates the involvement of their own organization in the partnership. Collectively, the partnership champions provide ongoing communication among the partners and help keep the partnership focused on results. DIVERSITY Effective partnerships are made up of a diversity of partners who have a clear sense of their own identities. A diversity of strong partners is essential for success. A strong partner is one who knows their unique strengths & weaknesses (both individually & organizationally), how they fit into the partnership, what they can contribute to the big vision, and how they can benefit from the joint effort. Clear identities strengthen relationships among partners and reduce ambiguity, overlap, and duplication in the work. TRUST Effective partnerships depend on relationships of trust, openness, and mutual concern. A partnership is more than the "mechanics" of coordination, planning, strategies, and tactics. It is about real people working together in relationship. To be effective, there must be trust in both the people and the process. A strong partner invests the time it takes to know, understand, and appreciate the other partners. A strong partner is especially sensitive towards those from cultures or backgrounds other than their own. The heart of the Gospel is restored relationships, and at the very core, an effective partnership demonstrates this reality. COMMONALITY Effective partnerships recognize and accept the differences among partners but concentrate on what they have in common. Acknowledging differences is important, but a strong partner looks for commonalities with other partners in areas like vision, values, and experience. It is not necessary to agree on every aspect of history, methodology, and belief in order to accomplish significant Kingdom objectives. A strong partner values the diversity of the backgrounds of other partners but emphasizes their common focus. STAKEHOLDERS Effective partnerships recognize and meet the expectations of key stakeholders. As a partnership grows, it acknowledges at least four key groups: (1) the people the partnership is trying to reach or serve; (2) the partners themselves and the staff of their own agencies; (3) those who pray, give, and provide support; and (4) the partnership itself. An effective partnership continually communicates the progress of the partnership in ways that each group of stakeholders understands and appreciates. PROCESS PATIENCE Effective partnerships are an ongoing process, not an event. It takes a great deal of time and effort to form and maintain a partnership. An effective partnership does not rush through the early stages of doing the research, identifying potential partners, building relationships, establishing trust, and forming consensus. Strong partners are patient, and they know that the bigger the challenge, the more essential it is to form a foundation of common understanding. STRUCTURE Effective partnerships build only the minimum structure necessary to accomplish the big vision. A good structure should not constrain or complicate the partnership. It should only be what is required to accomplish the priorities for action. As the needs change, so can the structure. The form of the partnership (how it is structured) should always follow the function of the partnership (what it is trying to accomplish). PARTICIPATION Effective partnerships maintain the widest possible participation in decision-making. Commitment, ownership, and participation is encouraged by actively engaging people in the process, not just the vision. An effective partnership is never top- down or hierarchical in nature. Partners give special attention to developing processes for planning, decisions, and communication that enlist broad participation. INVESTMENT Effective partnerships require intentional investment from all the partners. Strong partners know that an effective partnership requires resources to accomplish its purpose. An effective partnership strives to keep the "overhead" of its operating costs as low as possible by avoiding complicated partnership structures, offices, equipment, staff, and so on. An effective partnership finds ways to share the resources of the partners. Where the partnership itself requires additional resources to operate and accomplish its objectives, the partners contribute together to make it possible. REINFORCEMENT Effective partnerships proactively reinforce the values and skills of collaboration among the partners. Changes and conflicts within a partnership are inevitable. Strong partnerships expect problems, disagreements, disappointments, and other negative issues. But they also expect positive changes, such as new leadership, new opportunities, and the potential for new partnerships to emerge. In order to best handle all these situations, an effective partnership reflects on its learning and reinforces the best practices of collaboration among the partners. CELEBRATION Effective partnerships appreciate the importance of ongoing reflection, evaluation, and celebration. Working in partnership to accomplish a big vision can be very challenging. An effective partnership develops clear measures to evaluate the work and makes adjustments as needed. It can take a great deal of time to achieve significant objectives, so an effective partnership celebrates progress along the way - even in small things. Finally, an effective partnership is committed to shared success, and claims achievements in the name of the partnership. ABOUT VISIONSYNERGY visionSynergy empowers Christian organizations to work together for maximum impact by developing and strengthening strategic ministry networks & partnerships in critical areas of world mission. We play a unique role in the worldwide Christian movement as one of the few mission service organizations specifically dedicated to advancing ministry collaboration. Over the past 25 years, members of our team have formed, facilitated, or advised more than a hundred missional networks & partnerships which have collectively involved thousands of Christian organizations. Through these groups, organizations work together to share information and resources, and ultimately, accomplish significant shared goals. We believe that Christians are called to work together and, having seen the success of partnerships, we are convinced that collaboration is the single best strategy for addressing the most pressing needs in the world today. Collaboration is the key that reduces the duplication of our efforts, increases the effectiveness of our ministries, and strengthens the credibility of our witness for Christ. visionSynergy | PO Box 232 - Edmonds WA 98026 - USA | +1.425.673.5644 |