Question 60 of 365: Who should be our partners?

Not all collaboration is equal.

There are the types of collaboration that require that I do a first draft and then everyone hangs ideas off of it like a christmas tree. Generally, these are things that I have a lot of experience in, but many others have opinions about. Google Docs is the perfect platform for getting things like this done because it is basically begging for someone to start an idea before sharing it out.

There are the types of collaboration that require divvying up the work in a big way so that each person. I think about every time that I have started a wiki or managed a project. There are just some things that we gravitate toward because we actually have time to tackle them. Each page is owned by someone else and while there may be commenting back and forth, the pages really feel like one person’s work.

There are collaborations that call for extremely distributed contributions. We are talking here about the ones that use hashtags, forms or drop boxes. These kinds of collaborations do not feel especially well organized because their point is to gather data rather than propose an idea. The real result is that someone must use the data wisely and produce a first draft type of collaboration.

All three of these types of collaboration are fine, but they aren’t partnerships.

To me, partnerships are all about shared resources and shared responsibility. They are all about taking a risk in the hopes of finding a reward. They are about joining forces so closely that it doesn’t matter who is doing the action, both entities feel “on the hook” for making sure it is a good one.

These kinds are partnerships are few and far between. And yet, they are the ones that I am looking for. I am actively engaged in finding groups of people (whether those are companies, organizations, or just self-organizing conglomerations) that are interested in giving up a piece of what they have in order to find something greater.

I am looking for groups willing to invest time and resources in building an idea, and not necessarily their idea. Rather, I want groups who are willing to share an idea.

And yet, how do you get a group that is already established to buy into something that isn’t “theirs” in the strictest sense of the word?

It is my belief that in order to partner with someone, your value must be so glaringly apparent as to make it inconceivable for the partner to want to do anything else. Too often we settle for less than ideal partners because we either do not believe that we have this kind of value or we believe that it does not exist outside of us, and therefore, is impossible to find.

The people we partner with should be able to help us achieve one of our goals better, stronger, or faster. If not, we should take a pass. And if they do not see us in the same light, they should move along as well.

Partnerships should be made based upon creating something new. If it is just consolidation or dovetailing of interests, a partnership is unnecessary. People will collaborate just fine without formalizing a relationship. But, creating something new, requires new people to step forward. It requires a leadership that cannot be slapped together. Creating something new, at least something lasting, is impossible without sharing a thought process and following through on that process.

A partnership also must be perfected over time. The relationships are very much like any good marriage: they require a lot of communication and work. I believe in the power of working hard to communicate between two entities and in fulfilling the requests that one another have. “Trouble Tickets” should be able to go both ways. The process of fixing something broken is both systemic and swift, iterative and intuitive.

In short, I want to partner with those who want to partner with me. Any takers?

0 Comments

  1. I read this one last night and sat on it.
    Mainly, I found myself agreeing – a lot.
    “To me, partnerships are all about shared resources and shared responsibility. They are all about taking a risk in the hopes of finding a reward. They are about joining forces so closely that it doesn’t matter who is doing the action, both entities feel 'on the hook' for making sure it is a good one.”
    Yeah.
    It's true.
    “I am looking for groups willing to invest time and resources in building an idea, and not necessarily their idea. Rather, I want groups who are willing to share an idea.”
    To quote Tina Fey in _30 Rock_, “I want to go to there.”
    “The people we partner with should be able to help us achieve one of our goals better, stronger, or faster. If not, we should take a pass. And if they do not see us in the same light, they should move along as well.”
    Partnership is a choice. Collaboration, often, is not. If a partnership has no reciprocity, I'm moving on.
    “Any takers?”
    I'm in.

  2. I have never felt myself so validated in my life. You have been quite good
    for my ability to both think things through and think that I am on the right
    track.

    So, I know I wasn't specifically addressing The Next School with this, but I
    guess I was. What partners that we are looking at fit this mold? How can we
    start to cultivate these types of partners? I feel like it really has a lot
    to do with listening and with finding the right people who are willing to
    commit to something bigger than themselves or their individual institution.

    I don't want to be filled with empty rhetoric. I want to be concrete and to
    do the things that I am talking about.

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