MAKING YOUR PARTNERSHIP WORK
Winepress Publishing, 2002, 165 pp.
Rickett is a professor at Eastern University and senior advisor of partnership development for Partners International. This follow- up book to Building Strategic Partnerships is meant particularly for global bi-lateral partnerships. It is more practical but would benefit from practical examples to illustrate some of the processes. Those with some formal partnership experience will find it most valuable. There is still a need for an introductory manual to help inexperienced church leaders begin partnering across cultures.
“The shift in the center of gravity of Christian expansion is the defining trend of world evangelization today. Not only is it reshaping the grand, macro-level aspects of missions but the local aspects as well, including where, when, how, and with whom Christians carry out the work of the gospel.” (19)
“What Two-Thirds world Christians ask for is our personal, passionate involvement as co-workers in the ministry of the gospel,” (not necessarily our technology, our methodology, or our wealth.) (20)
“Partnership is defined as a relationship between ministries and people who share common aspirations, strive to achieve them together, and do so in a spirit of cooperation and brotherly love.” (23)
“To have productive partnerships, we must have vision, relationship, and results.”
“By vision I mean a compelling view of the future—a picture of what the partnership can achieve.” (23)
The book is organized around the Imperatives of Partnership (from a chart on p. 25)
VISION – shared vision, compatibility, ground rules
RELATIONSHIP – alliance champions, intercultural understanding, mutual trust
RESULTS – meaningful results, documentation, learning and change
PART I. VISION
Ch. 1. A Shared Vision
“Vision is important to any type of ministry, but it is essential for intercultural partnerships.” “Shared vision keeps everyone moving in the same direction.” (29)
“By vision I mean a picture of the future that is both compelling and credible.” “A credible vision articulates a realistic view of the future. People on both sides have to believe that with God’s help they can actually make the vision a reality.” (30)
“The first element of successful partnership is having a good reason to partner.” “Good enough.” (31) “Partnership starts with a recognized need for collaboration.” (31)
“Goals that make a difference reflect a potential for impact in the ministry of the gospel that could not be achieved without the partnership.” (33)
“It’s fine to be helpful and to provide assistance, but that doesn’t make a partnership. Partnership must be reciprocal.” (31)
“The only way to know whether or not a relationships is reciprocal is to determine what is in it for each partner.” (34)
Ch. 2. Compatibility
“While agreement on fundamental beliefs is the most obvious aspect of compatibility, it is also the most easily overlooked.” (35)
“Partners should not have to make major changes in operational values and priorities.” “The same goes for ministry priorities. Priorities should be compatible at the top.” (36-7)
“It is easy to overlook size and capacity in assessing the compatibility of organizations. …partnerships can sometimes turn out like elephant-rabbit stew. When we use one elephant and one rabbit, it should not surprise us that the 50-50 stew tastes more of elephant than of rabbit!” (38-9)
“Another challenge of uneven relationships is the capacity to get things done. Large organizations may have staff members who work full-time in specialized areas…. They may underestimate what it is like in a small organization where each staff member has multiple jobs.” (39)
Ch. 3. Ground Rules
“One key to success is ground rules…explicit guidelines that govern behavior.” “They fix the limits of what you should and should not do.” (41)
Five areas for ground rules: roles and responsibilities, communication, financial matters, conflict resolution, and disengagement. “The first step is to think through all the different roles that need to be performed.” (42)
Checklist for Vision – p. 51
PART II. RELATIONSHIP
Ch. 4. Alliance Champions
“Partnership is nothing if it is not personal. It’s all about relating.” “Partnering organizations have to connect at the personal level, and this is best achieved through alliance champions. Alliance champions are the people most responsible for making the partnership work. This means that each organization must have at least one person dedicated to managing the relationship.” (55)
The champion serves in both coordination and advocacy roles. (57) Tasks of the champion: build rapport, provide leadership, clarify expectations, keep things simple and flexible, keep communications flowing, go the distance, keep God at the center.
“Overly specific objectives trap partners on a one way street in a world that demands flexibility and quick response. Champions don’t use goals to force things to happen. They use them as points of reference to manage change.” (59)
Setting goals and measuring results is less about using good management practices than about understanding what God is inviting you to do, then looking to see if it’s happening and what you can learn from it.” (61)
Ch. 5. Intercultural Understanding
“Every one of the nine imperatives of partnership represents Anglo-American cultural patterns.” (66) “Anyone who wants to have a global partnership but who has never lived outside his or her culture is at a distinct disadvantage.” (67)
“Non-Western ministries almost routinely accommodate to Western partners.” (67)
“Culture is the shared ways in which groups of people understand and interpret the world.” (68)
The onion model of culture is attributed to Donald Smith, Creating Understanding, (Zondervan, 1992), pp. 251-266) (69)
Ch. 6. Mutual Trust
“Partnerships are built on trust. Without it, they simply don’t work.” “Trust is what allows us to accept at face value what others say. We don’t have to worry about hidden agendas or distortion. We can act on the information without fear that we might later regret it.” “Trust allows us to share information with each other freely and openly, even negative information.” (75)
“While it is the most powerful component of a partnership, it is also the most fragile.” (75)
“Simply stated, we trust those who meet our expectations. In contrast, distrust arises when those on whom we depend appear unwilling or unable to meet our expectations.” (76)
“Bergquist found three kinds of trust in a partnership: trust in intentions, trust in competency, and trust in perspectives. All three are needed. (77)
“We create trust not so much by trusting others as by giving others reasons to trust us.”
“The more we trust, the more vulnerable we become. An organization that cannot live with vulnerability should not expect to succeed at partnering.” (78)
“Without trust, partners become unwilling or unable to be completely open with each other; especially about problems.” (79)
“Integrity, and the trust that derives from it, boil down to consistency in four basic areas:
· Is what you know what you make known? - Are you forthcoming with important information and honest about your feelings and views?
· Is there alignment between your words and actions? – keeping your promises
· Is your behavior consistent across situations? – everyone gets the same story. You don’t change your position based on whom you are talking to.
· Is your behavior consistent over time? - It takes a long time to demonstrate integrity.
“Many ministry partnerships…fail because of unrealistic expectations, self-serving agendas, excessive demands for accountability, or chronic inconsistencies between word and actions.” (84)
PART III. RESULTS
Ch. 7. Meaningful Results
“By results I mean the effects or outcomes produced by the joint effort of ministry partners.” (89) “They tell us if we are moving in the right direction and they let us know when we have arrived.” (90)
Meaningful results are measured, strategic, balanced, synergistic, and co-created. (90)
“In the absence of clear measurements, just about anything can pass for success or failure.” (90)
“Measurements come in two basic kinds: quantitative and qualitative. Quantity is the amount of something; quality has to do with its essential nature.” Both are useful and necessary. (91) If you can’t count, compare qualities. Compare the present to the ideal or compare the present with the past for a single attribute. (92)
“Balance has to do with getting results that correspond to the level of contribution.” “The issue is…the perceived degree to which the results correspond to the level of contribution.” (94)
“Synergy comes only from the strategic alignment of skills and resources to accomplish a specific objective.” (95)
“Results in partnership are most meaningful when they are co-created, the product of joint learning and mutual change.” (96)
Unexamined results leave you adrift in ambiguity, never certain of what your activities really mean. They can convince you that the activity aligns with espoused values. “Examining results is the feedback loop that enables learning and signals a need for change.” (96)
Ch. 8. Documentation
“Partnership is all about managing expectations. The big challenge is the speed with which expectations change.” “Documentation provides an audit trail…” (99)
“Some common types of documentation include project proposals, working agreements, financial reports, and project updates.” (100) A chart on pp. 101-02 provides a list of what should be included in a project proposal.
Ch. 9. Learning and Change
“Successful partnerships don’t hold together because they cling to their original plans; they succeed because they learn and adjust to each other and to changing circumstances.” “Partners not only have to learn about one another, they have to learn how to collaborate with one another.” (113)
“Plans are good but things do change. Strategies don’t always work. “The power of planning is in the process, the discipline of collectively setting the focus, analyzing the forces that drive the ministry, and establishing milestones.” (115)
“Feedback about the processes and outcomes of ministry is the most important kind of information.” This “usually amounts to quarterly activity reports that include financial statements, reports on significant achievements, problems to be overcome, and action plans.” (116)
“It is not enough to collect information; we must absorb it, internalize it, and … make it our own. It is when we have time to think about what we see and hear, to make patterns out of information, and to test ideas that we truly learn.” (117)
Some things ministry leaders can do to enhance learning from experience: (119 ff.)
· Establish an environment conducive to learning – encourage experimentation and adapting to new situations.
· Tell people what they need to do to succeed in their jobs.
· Help people set achievable goals.
· Provide feedback on work performance and ministry outcomes.
Include people as active participants in decision-making.
· Match individual talents to job requirements.
· Make sure people have the information they need.
· Avoid stepping in and solving problems people should solve themselves.
· Celebrate success.
Resource One: Partner Assessment and Selection (125 ff.)
A checklist for selecting a partner. 41 questions.
Resource Two: Our Pledge to You (131 ff.)
The pledge Partners International commits to its partners.
Resource Three: Partnership Self-Assessment (139 ff.)
A questionnaire for all team members of both partners to evaluate themselves.
ISBN 1-57921-419-3 www.winepresspub.com www.partnersintl.org
To purchase copies, call Partners International 877-421-7323