What we learnt from the Partnership Brokers Association
Our very own Matthew Gillett attended the Partnership Brokers Association course in October. In this article, Matthew shares his insights and takeaways from this program so that you might also benefit, and begin building stronger and more meaningful partnerships.
Collaboration is one of the strengths of the Community Services Industry, but we don’t always get optimum value from our collaborations.
Sometimes our efforts stay at the level of cooperation and coordination, but as Robyn Keast says:
New value is achieved through genuine collaboration.
At the CSIA, ‘Working Together’ is part of our DNA. It is the basis on which we came about, and it is why we are called an Alliance.
We do a lot of work in collaboration with peak organisations, other community services, government and the private sector. As a small and relatively young organisation, these collaborations have helped us to build strength and extend our influence and achievements.
Along with relatively informal collaborations, the CSIA are also now managing two important consortium projects:
- WorkAbility Qld in partnership with NDS Queensland, Workforce Council and QCOSS
- The ILC Provider Readiness Project which is a consortium between the CSIA and NDS Queensland.
In 2018, the CSIA intend to have an even stronger focus on collaboration in our own work and support system change to enable more productive collaboration in our Industry.
The partnership training
As part of this agenda to develop more explicit collaboration practice, our Industry Development Manager, Matthew Gillett, recently attended the Partnership Brokers Association course to find out more about this growing profession.
The Partnership Brokers Association (PBA) is the international professional body for those managing and developing collaboration processes.
Their primary aims are to:
- challenge and change poor partnering practices so that multi-stakeholder collaboration can become truly transformational
- ensure those operating in partnership brokering roles are skilled, principled and work to the highest standards
- promote the critical importance of partnering process management to decision-makers in all sectors.
According to the PBA, Partnership Brokers are individuals or organisations that support multi-stakeholder partnerships at local, national or international levels enabling them to better achieve their sustainable development goals.
Internal or external partnering
Partnership brokers may be internal or external to the partnering organisations. Whether you are a consultant coming in to work with a group of stakeholders, or you are one of the stakeholders involved, you can play an important role by brokering, or supporting, a stronger and more productive collaboration.
Matthew said: “A successful partnership broker must use skills such as innovative and strategic thinking, facilitation, negotiation, good judgement and empathy, to name just a few.”
PBA’s four-day course teaches comprehensive brokering skills and the PBA model for partnership brokerage. It aims to provide a deeper understanding of partnership process management and build capacity for professionals working in multi-stakeholder partnerships.
This training is the only course of it’s kind, born from a growing demand for professionalism and greater competence in building and maintaining multi-sector partnerships.
According to PBA, there are 10 key attributes for effective partnering:
- A clear understanding between the partners of what they mean by ‘partnership’
- Agreement to a shared vision and common purpose
- Allowance being made for individual partners’ interests
- The co-creation of design, decisions and solutions
- Commitment to sharing risks as well as benefits
- Every partner contributes resources (whether tangible or intangible)
- Partners share decision-making and leadership responsibilities
- Partners commit to mutual/horizontal accountability
- Partners work together to develop a principled approach to partnering endeavours
- Attention is paid to the partnering process as well as the partnership’s projects.
These attributes are essential for an effective collaboration, where challenges such as timelines, loss of momentum, communication breakdowns and staff turnover can threaten a successful partnership.
“There is no doubt that community services benefit greatly from working together, with a collaborative approach bringing strategic and operational benefits,” says Matthew.
“Whether engaging an external partnership broker or not, organisations need to think about the strategic connections they have and how to maximise them.
“Being bold and setting clear governance arrangements around partnerships are also imperative factors for collaborative success.”