Partnership comes straight from the heart of interprofessionalism. Working in partnership reflects the unity we see in working with, for and between service providers and service users. Partnership is one important way in which the unity of a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach is demonstrated to the world. The following principles have been observed to be important in the development of effective partnerships and they are wholly consistent with Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. We will follow the following principles at our conference:
- Effective Partnerships seek the direction from each other in all they do.
Partners are refreshed and empowered by sharing and caring together for one another’s personal needs as well as for the work.
- Effective Partnerships have a Facilitator or a Facilitation Team.
Partnership does not just happen. It takes a person or a team of people committed to partnership and acceptable to all the partners. They serve the whole partnership, enabling it to function.
- Effective Partnerships have a clear Purpose
Only a partnership that is formed to fulfil a specific vision is likely to be effective. Partnership for partnership’s sake spells failure.
- Effective Partnerships start by identifying Needs before shaping Structure
An effective partnership starts by identifying barriers to progress and from these agree on priorities for action; it doesn’t try to establish conditions for membership or write a common Statement of Incorporation! Function (what the partnership can do) should always come before Form (how the partnership is structured). Consensus is usually better than Constitution.
- Effective Partnerships have clear, well-defined Objectives
In the early days, objectives will be limited and achievable. However, they must be significant enough to provide motivation for the partnership. As the partnership experiences progress, the objectives that are set become more challenging.
- Effective Partnerships keep their eyes on the Ultimate Vision
It is easy to focus on the “means” rather than the “end”. An effective partnership keeps focused on the long-term vision and does not get distracted by day-to-day operational demands.
- Effective Partnerships are built on relationships of trust, openness and mutual concern
Partnership is more than coordination and planning. The heart of the partnership is restored relationships, demonstrated as well as proclaimed. Developing such relationships requires time and intentional effort. Effective partners are especially sensitive towards those from cultures and backgrounds other than their own.
- Effective Partnerships focus on what the partners have in common rather than on what makes them different
Unity is encouraged by sharing things of the heart like vision, values and common goals. Discussing differences in philosophy, history and work experience divides. However, it is important to acknowledge – even celebrate – these differences from time to time.
- Effective Partnerships maintain a high level of Participation and Ownership by the Partners
Ownership and commitment to the process are encouraged by wide participation of all the partners in decision-making.
- Effective Partnerships impart the vision and skills for partnership development to all the partners continuously
It is important for partners to catch the vision for partnership and to develop skills in partnering. This may include training in partnership development on occasions when the partnership meets. An effective partnership expects problems, especially at times of leadership change, and develops processes for managing them.
- Effective Partnerships do not come Free of Charge
Just participating costs time and money so all partners are investing in some way. Deeper commitment involves an even greater investment, but the benefits more than outweigh these costs.
- Effective Partners recognise that Partnership is an on-going process, not an event
The early stages of developing a partnership take time. Call a meeting too soon and the process is likely to fail. The development of trust is essential before the potential partners come together. Later, time for nurturing trust and processing issues is equally important. It is even more challenging to maintain a partnership than to launch one.
- Effective Partners recognise that they have various constituencies whose needs must be acknowledged and whose contributions must be valued
There are more people and interests involved in a partnership than those that sit around the table. The constituencies involved include the leaders and staff of the partner organisations, the supporters of these organisations, the people we are seeking to serve and the partnership itself. Effective partners understand the needs of each of these groups and seek to meet them. They also acknowledge and value the contributions each makes.
- Effective Partners celebrate
It is important for partners to frequently celebrate the achievements of individual partners and the partnership as a whole.
- Effective Partners have an ‘Advocate’ for Partnership in their own Organisation
This is a person who sees how their own organisation can benefit from practical cooperation and who will share this vision with their colleagues. Without such a person, the commitment of the organisation to the partnership is likely to be half-hearted at best.
- Effective Partners have clear identities and visions
Partners who have a strong sense of their own identity and calling are most likely to be effective. If the individual partners do not have a clear vision for their own organisation, they will have difficulty seeing where they can contribute to the overall picture or benefit from the joint effort.