A few tips for a better partnership...
7 reasons to work in partnership
√ Synergy brings new ideas and enhances creativity.
√ Easier access to other networks facilitates outreach to more cultural operators.
√ The pooling of resources and skills makes it easier to implement large-scale projects.
√ The involvement of several partners in the project lowers the cost of their activities.
√ Capacity to identify challenges and respond to them in innovative ways is improved.
√ The diversity of the cultural operators involved reassures donors and opens the door to funding.
7 principles for participation in partnership
√ Use the partnership as a tool to facilitate participatory, decision-making and management, and thus good governance.
√ Give preference to funding models in which all partners contribute according to their respective capacities. Such models encourage commitment and accountability on the part of each partner, particularly cultural operators whose business skills must be honed to enable them to realize their potential to the full.
√ Diversify your funding sources and be creative when exploring funding opportunities. In addition to applying to traditional funding sources, for example government, international organizations, aid agencies and bilateral development agencies, try exploring other possibilities. For instance, if you are hosting a music festival, consider having a food stand that could generate income. If you are opening a bookshop, consider setting up a coffee shop next to it, which would not only attract more visitors but also be a source of income.
√ Capitalize on the added value of the partnership as a tool for encouraging the institutionalization, legitimization and greater representativeness of professional associations of cultural sector operators; these stakeholders are of the essence not only in voicing local needs, but also because of their potential and ability to act.
√ Share information, networks and resources as much as possible. Though it is normal for stakeholders individually to reserve access to their various networks, sharing contacts with other partners will sometimes help you to take your projects forward.
√ In order to accomplish their tasks in a responsible and appropriate manner, partners must ensure an ethical behavior towards each other. They must make sure they commit to activities only when they have the means, skills, and capacity to deliver on their commitments.
√ Mutual respect between partners applies irrespective of qualification and size. Partners must respect and recognize each other's obligations and constraints. Mutual respect must not preclude partners from engaging in constructive dissent.
7 points to consider in a partner
√ Opt for partnerships whenever new and uncharted areas of action those are of interest to cultural industries, such as the switch from analogue to digital technology, are being considered.
√ Include as many stakeholders as possible and needed from all sectors concerned by the partnership project; they may have varying levels of involvement and responsibility.
√ Do not work in isolation. If you are working on a joint project, then you must understand your partners. In order to do so you must communicate effectively and regularly with each other (intra-group) and with other stakeholders (inter-group) who are working in the same context.
√ Choosing your partner. Self-assessment is vital in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. This will improve understanding of what you will have to offer in a partnership (comparative advantage) and what kind of partner you are looking for. If you know your own strengths and weaknesses, you will be better prepared to make a calculated decision and choose a partner whose profile would be complementary to yours.
√ Evaluate each partner’s skills and assign tasks accordingly. Do not hesitate to call on an outside expert.
√ Define each partner’s objectives and roles, including the added-value, clearly and collaboratively. Your descriptions of responsibilities should be concrete and articulate and leave little room for misinterpretation. This will minimize potential confusion and conflict throughout the project.
√ Assign partners’ contributions and responsibilities according to their fields of competence and strengths and revise such assignments regularly in order to adapt to any situational changes and update activities carried out under the partnership.
7 rules for tracking your partnership
√ Once you have defined each party’s role, formalize your agreement in writing. Be sure to draft a clear and concise Memorandum of Understanding or partnership agreement that all partners agree upon and sign. This will be useful in the event of disagreement or dispute.
√ Document the partnership. Regular documentation is essential to the success of any partnership project. Compile progress and status reports, meeting minutes and brief emails for all stakeholders taking part in video conferences. This will help to illustrate your partnership approach and facilitate communication among partners, while maintaining transparency.
√ Establish a detailed plan of action to record the details of the construction process and evaluate it over time. All partners should take part in the decision-making process but not all partners should carry out the project. A management team is essential and should be established early in the project cycle.
√ Dissemination of the results. If your partnership is developing a strategy document, tools, CDRom, etc., it is vital to the impact of your project to have developed a good dissemination and communication strategy for it. The promotion of your product will be the fruit of the partnership.
√ Be flexible in adjusting goals over time. When entering into a partnership, it is essential to define clearly the goals and objectives to be attained. However, as the project progresses, through trial and error, project partners may wish to adjust the goals to accommodate new variables. It is therefore important to maintain a level of flexibility in regard to changing or adapting priorities/goals.
√ Pay attention to impact and sustainability. Although most partnerships are limited in duration and focused on a particular project, it does not mean that their results must be so characterized. Envision the future of your activity throughout the partnership. Ponder whether you could implement the second project phase with current partners. Explore future collaboration options, bearing in mind that the project should interest all stakeholders.
√ Impact, evaluation and follow-up. Most projects have measures in place to assess their impact through evaluation and follow-up, but very few people ascribe enough importance to evaluating their partnership! In order to benefit fully from the partnership experience, you must evaluate the partnership thoroughly, in consultation with other partners, in order to learn and apply lessons learnt to future collaboration.
7 techniques for better communication
√ Set a tentative timetable for team meetings to ensure that partners are prepared in advance.
√ At the end of each meeting, sum up the decisions taken and matters pending and announce the date of the next meeting.
√ Keep a team log book and record all decisions, working documents and resource documents used; this can be used to keep any absentees informed.
√ Formalize in writing – this assists in decision-making and improves internal and subsequently external communication.
√ Communicate to encourage partners’ involvement: contact them regularly to collect their ideas, feedback and concerns.
√ Partners must develop routines as soon as the working group is formed, especially when a partnership consists of stakeholders operating in distant places or in different time zones. A jointly defined procedure can be a precondition for achieving good results.
√ It is important to recognise that communication is a two way process: the ability to listen is vital in an effective communication. A few simple rules can help you empathise with others: think before you speak, do not shout, speak clearly, tell the other person how you feel, say all you want to say, listen carefully.