My top ten “pills” for partnership headaches (Part Two)

(Continued from previous post)

  • Separate Your Pain from Customer’s Pleasure

I think it is very easy to lose track of the big picture when pressures mount from partnerships.    In the end, organizations like libraries get involved in partnerships because they bring benefits to their users.    From the perspective of your objectives, deadlines, and inbox, partnerships may appear like all pain.

Partnerships ultimately mean the conjoinment of two different cultures.   Two cultures means different values, different traditions and different ways of doing work.   Your organization may place a strong emphasis on meeting deadlines.   The partner may not place the same emphasis, focussing perhaps on “taking the time to do it right.”   That’s going to mean that you are going to get in trouble as your partner shows up late on a deadline.   That is going to be frustrating.   It is going to feel horrible and stress you out.

You are going to wonder about the value of the partnership.
Perhaps your partner will feel frustrated as well as you miss details on your way to getting the job done on time.   Maybe they will question your competence as well.

Before you get your back up, retract your claws and think about the value this partnership brings to your customers.   That will be your defense when the shared document is late and your boss visits your cubicle.

Then you can highlight how the Partner’s values may give your organization a fresher look on things.   “These guys cover all their bases,” you can say.  “That will reduce the potential risks that we will face as we push forward with this project.   For my part, I will fix my deadlines so our projects do not get stalled in the process.”

  • Find Your Avatar

A partnership implies a culture shock.    You will need a champion in the partner organization.   Do some research on this.   Who makes things happen in the organization?   Who does the senior management listen to?   Who is hard working?   Who has the innovative ideas?     You will have to find the person that is right for your particular partnered project and get them on board.

  • Be Your Avatar

Next, take a long look in the mirror and decide where you stand in the organization.   Do people listen to you and make things happen when you make a decision?    Are you the ideas person?    Are you the doer, taking the decisions of others and making them happen in ways that exceed the expectation than even the originator of the idea?

However you see yourself, that ought to have a great deal of say in how you approach the partnership in your organization.   If you are the visionary, then you should take that vision and bring it to the organization itself.   If you are a doer, maybe you need a visionary ally in bringing your message across.   If you are an innovator, maybe you need a prototype that explains your project to others.   Either way, you have to create a hero out of yourself to make a partnership effective.    Buy-in has to come both ways in this process.

  • Key Support

It goes without saying that you ought to have Senior Management approval for any substantial money-costing partnership.   There are others that are important as well.

For instance, your front-line staff may begin to receive a number of phone calls from stakeholders in the partner organizations.   Their attitude toward the project will have a serious effect on how serious it is taken throughout that organization.

Other departments such as IT and Marketing may be impacted as well.   At minimum you should find out where this project sits in their hierarchy of priorities.

  • Communicate the Vision

You have to let people know what’s going on.   That’s no surprise.   But how do you explain what this partnership is about.   Sometimes a metaphor helps.   Using an overarching image to describe the principles of the project will help bring it closer to your colleague’s hearts.

Does the project merit its own title?   If so, the title should be catchy and quick.   It should not confuse others.

However you decide to approach the communication, the better your colleagues understand your project, the better the partnership will be.


In the end, a partnership is a rewarding process for an organization to engage in.   Despite the emotional impacts, fear of change and general headaches,  increase your capacity to offer core services through resource sharing, expand markets, and increase learning in the organization.

The pain is definitely worth the gain in the end.