Effective partnerships begin with the end in mind. This means careful consideration, not only of the objectives that the partnership seeks to achieve, but also of what happens to the structure that has evolved to deliver the objectives. And these issues should be discussed at the earliest opportunity.
Some partnerships may end up evolving into permanent mechanisms for delivering sustainable development goals – in effect, they transform themselves into a new kind of institution that no longer operates as a partnership. In other situations, partnerships will develop and pilot an initiative with the explicit intention of handing it over, when the conditions are right, to a more mainstream delivery mechanism. This can help to achieve impact at scale.
Part of the challenge is to ensure that partners can leave without imperilling the long-term viability of the endeavour. Messy endings virtually guarantee that the value from a partnership, however good, is seriously undermined and marginalised.
If there is equitable power sharing amongst partners, it will be much easier to join and leave without upsetting the balance of the initiative. However, if the initiative has become too reliant on one of the partners, and that partner decides to leave, it may endanger the entire process.
An effective moving-on strategy (as distinct from an ‘exit strategy‘ which applies to more conventional business arrangements) encourages partners to look ahead to understand how results will be institutionalised, replicated (see box, right), or further developed.
- Have partners been able to effectively define the ‘ownership’ of the ultimate outcomes of the partnering project?
- What exit conditions have partners specified?
- What does success look like for each partner?
- What timing horizons does each partner have for engaging in the partnering endeavour; to what extent can they rely on the sustained support of each participant?
- Report: Moving on This toolbook focuses on the exit aspects of a partnership a part of the cycle often unplanned or mishandled. It also looks at the the indications of success that can be associated with exits; achieving goals; and reaching conclusions.
- Report: Chapter 6.10 of Partnership Paperchase, publication on BPD.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
- Strategies for replicating, institutionalising, scaling, or further developing the results are in place
- Exit options for partners have been specified
- Agreement on transfer of ownership of partnership assets
- Time horizon of partners is comparable