‘Partnership’ in the business context is a strategy for using collaborative working relationships between people and groups of individuals, to assist in achieving the organisation’s vision and business objectives.


What is a strategy?

A strategy is about identifying the direction in which to go.  Strategies work best when they are aligned with the visions and goals of the organisation. A strategy is a plan or route-map of interlinked actions designed to achieve a particular objective or goal, headed in a specific direction. Gary Hamel, a strategy guru, states “Strategy comes from viewing the world in different ways. Strategy starts with an ability to think in new and unconventional ways”.

A partnership brings together people with organisational capabilities and resources in the form of skills, expertise, collaborative behaviours and attitudes, experience and innovative ideas to tackle common problems and shared visions for the future.

In these, a successful way forward is often beyond the capacity of a single person, a single group or a single organisation.  Partnerships are created and forged for joint problem solving, resources exchange, coordination and coalition building. The relationships can be temporary or permanent. It is now recognised that collaborative business partnerships can bring outstanding results in the progression of organisations.

A fulcrum of the partnership relationship is the question; “What can we do together that neither of us can do singularly?”

“A powerful partnership is created when there is chemistry, lots at stake in shared goals, regular interaction and disciplined intensity” says Robert Hargrove in “Powerful Coaching”

The principles of partnership include –

  1. Mutuality – the partnership relations are open to dialogue and exchange views. Respect is of the utmost importance
  2. Solidarity – meaning sensitivity and commitment to the problems, efforts and constraints of the other partners. It implies a readiness and willingness to respond appropriately to varied needs. If one or more partners are only ‘doing the job’ without commitment, it will be difficult to tackle the root issues or problems. Solidarity means response to real needs and constraints based upon respect and equality in the partner relationships.
  3. Trust – trust, reliability and dependability are three prime partnership elements because partnerships often cross many boundaries – interpersonal, inter-group or inter-department, cross cultural – mostly at the same time. Relationships are open to the risk of misunderstanding and there is a need for honesty and a clear expression of interest and aspiration on both sides.
  4. Accountability – any partnership involves rights and obligations. Challenges occur when one partner has the resources and the other has to ask for them, or one has the power to decide who gets funds and how much, and the other is accountable for their use.
  5. Shared purpose – without an agreed purpose, neither partnerships or strategy can lead to the successful accomplishment of even the first step, of setting the vision, goals or objectives. So, defining and agreeing the shared purpose is the first thing that must be accomplished in the partnership, for all else to flow. Without all parties participating in its formation, or at least strongly agreeing to it, once formed, there will not a coherence of will and action to move forward to the action points of the strategy and to fulfilling the aims of the partnership.

Care to try it?


William Wallace

5 October 2018