Posts from a league of extraordinary partnership catalysts
One of the observations of a just released REACT Services research report on global partnering is that the traditional categories and descriptions of collaborative efforts have morphed over the past decade or so. The words “partnership,” “network,” “forum,” “coalition,” “alliance,” “collaboration,” and “association” are now used interchangeably with somewhat similar and common definitions. Past distinctions among and between these words have clearly diminished as most define them the way they want depending on the space or ecosystem they wish to create. There are advantages and disadvantages of this development, though this “adjust to fit” flexibility of design and process has proved helpful to most.
The advantage that these past distictions had was that is often assisted in defining the type of partnering taking place. A “network” primarily shared connections and information that helped them meet individual needs; a partnership was made up of people attempting to collaborate to achieve things together that they could not by themselves.
In late 2002, we developed the concept of the Partnering Continuum to assist groups in understanding the different ways “partnering” expressed inself. It worked through a series of definitions that all fit under the umbrella of partnering.
As one works through the continuum from left to right, the level of intensity increases from low to high. In addition, the different activies and structures change. Obviously, it takes much more time, commitment, and risk to engage in deeper aspects of collaboration.
This understanding of these distictives can often give us strategic insights into the ways in which we can improve our partnering and collaboration. It also assists us in seeing ways in which we can be effective in partnering at lower levels of intentisity (more does not always mean greater improvement!).
So as we might want to describe and understand how a partnership, forum, network, or coalition is working, let’s look behind and beyond the name to what levels of intensity are taking place.