The complexity of a partnering endeavour requires solid and fair structures in place that allow for equitable participation for all partners in planning and decision-making. An initiative that does not allow for inclusive decision-making is bound to suffer from an increase in uncertainty, inhibit the building of trust, and may decrease the possibility of working optimally.
Ideally, partners distribute as many decisions as possible by agreement to those in the best position to make them. Only major strategic issues require joint decision-making. The form, and levels of formality, of governance may vary depending on the complexity and context of the partner set-up.
External transparency might be lost at the expense of internal transparency, because partnering requires often delicate negotiation practices that are not always served by immediate transparency.
Another crucial element to this is the buy-in of management of all partner organisations; if there is no alignment, the risk is that the partnering endeavour becomes separated and isolated from the core operations of the individual partners and will therefore lack legitimacy, authority, and influence. However partners choose or need to work, their initiative should be jointly agreed, clarified explicitly, and enshrined fully in a collaboration agreement.
- How do partners ensure that they are satisfied with their role in decision-making?
- How do partners ensure senior management buy-in to the collaboration?
- How can partners create the right balance between internal and external transparency?
- What are the transparency requirements of and from each of the partners (towards members, shareholders, constituencies) and how can this best be managed?
- Tool: Agreements are a key mechanism of partnerships because their role is to govern interactions. They help partnerships become more effective by allowing partners to cope with relational, performance and situational risks that characterise inter-organisational relationships. For more insights, including a tool, see this PrC / TPI publication on designing partnering agreements.
- Tool: A tool to create clarity about decision making.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
- Partners are content with the extent to which their contributions are appreciated and their role in decision-making
- External parties are satisfied with the level of communication that they receive of the progress of the partnership