Tips on effective collaboration and partnership working

18 September 2020
By Sarah Nelson

We have all heard those buzz words… collaboration, partnership working, collective strategies, collegiate work, consortiums and so on. But what do these truly mean, and can they actually be of benefit to you and your organisation, or are they merely just tick box exercises?

At the Foundation for Future London, our core ethics are based around shared, united and cooperative working. Not just with fellow East Bank partners and institutions, but with all small and large organisations, individuals, stakeholders and grassroots groups, all reflecting the true character of East London. It has been through this commitment to collective working that we as an organisation have learnt to trust, be open, have tolerance, learn, and reflect and celebrate the diverse strengths, skills, expertise and knowledge of our community partners that jointly makes us stronger.

The definition of a collaborative partnership is ‘agreements and actions made by consenting organisations to share resources to accomplish a mutual goal’, but here at the Foundation, we know that true collaborative working, and projects that are secured mutually with fellow interested parties, can make more of an impact on any one desired outcome. The greater good for that group brought together by one shared vision, outweighs any short-term success of one organisation in isolation. Organisations and individuals who truly work together and not in competition have a more holistic approach. They learn from other perspectives, identify needs and solutions more easily, share resources and polices, have improved communication, evolve through share visions and goals and most importantly increase their diversity and inclusion reach.

In October 2020, the Foundation will open its medium and large grant strands under the Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, and we want to encourage applications from organisations and individuals that showcase this true collaborative partnership working and demonstrate knowledge and skills sharing, the strengths that can only be achieved through mutual goals.

So here are our top tips for true collaborative and partnership working:

  1. Define your purpose
    First and foremost, you should always put the beneficiaries, service users, or overall aspiration at the heart of any collaboration. Progress can only be achieved if you already know what goals you are working towards. Take some time to identify and clarify what you want the partnership group to achieve so you can inspire and lead.
  2. Involve the right people and organisations
    Who is best placed to achieve this vision and goals? Who will compliment your own skill sets and resources by having the relevant experience, expertise and skills but who also have the same ethics and vision?
  3. Focus on getting ‘buy in’
    Before you ask for that joint working, think about how you will get buy in. Some people may be a little reluctant and see it as an imposition so think about your negotiation and strategic tactics to help them understand the joint benefits. Strong leadership will be key to support and bring people on any journey with you.
  4. Attitudes and behaviour
    There are many behaviours that will ensure successful collaborative working. It is important to take these behaviours in to account both for your own organisation and those you want to work with. Look at strengths such as having mutual respect, actively listening, honesty, shared values, being inclusive and having open communication
  5. Roles and responsibilities
    Putting an appropriate structure around working together is key. If you have a track record of previous collaborative projects this is often easier. But it is important to have a clear shared vision that is underpinned with a governance structure with each organisations’ roles and responsibilities being identified.

And always remember, as Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

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About the author

Sarah Nelson

Sarah joined the Future for London Foundation team in May 2020 as Programme and Communication Director.

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