by Linda Hutchinson |
You're working with partners on a programme of change. Which of these most closely describes your journey?
Of course, most collaborations and partnerships will have elements of both. Each has its merits. They also have their downsides though. ‘Road trips’ tend to have lots of enthusiasm at the beginning and great energy but relationships become strained especially when things don’t go well. Plans, if there are any, change. Differences in expectations pull the project this way and that. There would be ‘scope creep’ if the scope had ever been defined at the outset which is unlikely.
On the other hand, too much precision and organisation may mean that there is little room for flexibility. While good project management is advisable, some people experience projects as an exercise in completing templates, logs and update reports. Creativity and innovation are lost in layers of governance.
All this is caricature of course but can be a fun way to start a serious conversation about frustrations and lack of progress in any collaboration. Why do so many collaborative projects seem to fizzle out or take ages to get going? Why do those good intentions about working together not last the course? Taking time to think about these can help.
There are useful lists of the elements and conditions for effective partnerships. I was directed to one from What Works Scotland’s recent publication based on a review of evidence from partnerships in UK Public Services.Their list of effective partnership processes is a little long so key elements such as shared aims and objectives, leadership and trust are lost. Items about effective interventions to change services are mixed in with generic ones about partnership working. Yet it could be a useful reference for reviewing a partnership and identifying what might be improved.
Another resource is the evidence base for successful alliances published on a previous blog.
Or you can think about if you are on a road trip or executive travel package and which one you would rather be.