During this module, you will lay the foundations for your own partnership. After all, this course is intended as a launchpad and the theory can only get you so far.
So, how do you kick things off?
Firstly, remember that the partnering process is not linear and there is no definitive template you must use when it comes to this kind of project. By all means make a list, plot the actions you think you’ll need to take, and create draft timelines if that’s how you like to work, but keep it flexible and tailor it to what your partnership needs when it needs it.
You may find it useful to map out an intended path and a potential process that goes all the way to meeting your objective, so that you can share with your partner(s) and ensure you are all on the same page. This can be particularly helpful in the early stages and for sharing with potential new partners and anyone you report to. This will help them have an understanding of your intentions and roughly how long it will take. However, do not expect to stick to this.
Be Flexible and Responsive
It is essential that you remain agile and responsive to situational changes and discoveries as you move forward. Too often, we see organisations planning a detailed path from start to finish. Here are some of examples of what can happen for those who go down this route:
- After spending six months completing a detailed GANTT chart plan for the partnership, opportunities are missed, single changes have a cascading effect and implications that require the revision of the entire process. In the meantime, zero progress is made.
- Despite various situational changes, new information arising, and unexpected results from actions taken during the process, the plan is stubbornly followed and all the signs that point towards success for achieving their goal are ignored.
- Over-design makes partners feel that they have been dealt with a ‘fait accompli’. Decisions have already been made for them to follow. The opportunity to co-create and develop a feeling of ownership, or buy-in has been lost. Therefore, partners have no interest, or stake in making the partnership work.
If you must map out a potential path from start to finish, emphasise that it is a ‘concept’, or a ‘suggestion’, and not a rigid plan. Use it as a communication tool only. When it comes to taking action, just focus on the first few steps.
This is how we see the beginning of a partnership:
Add a visual – a horizontal flow chart. The start at one end, and the ultimate objective at the other. From the start, there are 2 planned actions you plan to take, and from each of those actions there are 2-3 resulting actions but more faded because they are dependent on the first actions, and unforeseen circumstances. After that the resulting actions fade to nothing – leaving a gap between them and the objective. The idea of this visual is to show that you shouldn’t be planning too far ahead. The further you get from step one, the less certainty there is.
The key is not to plan too far ahead. You cannot plan the result of conversations you’ve yet to have with potential partners, what you will discover during the process, or the decisions you will make together at later stages.
All you need to know to begin is your objective, and the first steps you can take to get there.
If you keep heading towards your objective and planning the next few steps you need to take in that direction, you will get there.