Friday, June 15, 2012 by Kathy Means
Creating successful partnerships
From some folks who ought to know, these are the key elements of successful partnerships:
- Necessity of partnership (must have a need)
- Clear purpose and motivation (even if those are different for both parties)
- Time and effort (one speaker said every good deal dies three times)
- Even power dynamics (trust is essential, no “gotcha” games, everyone brings something important to the table)
- Metrics to hold each other accountable
This discussion occurred at the Consumer Federation of America’s Food Policy Conference in mid-May. The speakers, who were discussing partnerships to advance nutrition policy, were: a public policy consultant, a rep from Darden, a rep from the Partnership for a Healthier America, and a rep from Nemours. But the points they made work for any partnerships and are worth repeating.
The speakers repeatedly said that compromise is not a dirty word and that trust is essential. Clearly defining outcomes and accountabilities is critical to keep everyone focused and productive. It doesn’t matter that each partner’s motivation for the outcomes is different; in fact that can allow a broader partnership if everyone doesn’t have to think the same way. The commitment to work toward the common outcome will drive the partners to success.
Agreeing on metrics strengthens accountability, one speaker noted. The group said that spelling out the work to be done and the structure to get it done and agreeing on decision-making and communication are also important.
One of the speakers noted that rarely in Washington, D.C. does anyone get their own way. Negotiation and compromise are important skills, and sometimes a third party may come in handy. That’s true outside Washington as well. We can often achieve more together than we can individually – that’s a core premise of associations like PMA, not just partnerships. You can take advantage of networking and partnering opportunities through your PMA membership benefits; we’ve just added a narrated Webinar on how you can maximize your membership. Find the right people to help you achieve your goals!