To meet the magnitude of this moment we must work collaboratively in ways that promote decentralization over top-down hierarchies, relationships over transactions, and emergence over control.
During the 2013 Synergy Summit, groups from more than 22 missional networks and partnerships around the world gathered together to discuss the best practices of partnership facilitation. One of the most stimulating sessions for participants was about Trust BREAKERS vs. Trust BUILDERS.
The method of making dissimilar materials adhere to one another is as old as history. At first natural materials were used, such as natural gums, plant resins, and saps. Then in the early 20th century, synthetic adhesives made from polymers emerged. Because of these modern adhesives, it now became possible to bring together different materials with extremely different properties. Just think of a Teflon pan or the heat shields on a space shuttle. This word picture of Teflon sticking to metal while being exposed to heat, the two materials expanding and contracting at different speeds, is not too far from the tension realized in partnerships. If you have ever been in a multi-lateral partnership or network where there are several different entities working together, you have experienced the tension of trying to “stick together.”
In this videoJose de Dios shares a story that reveals the true foundation of effective partnerships. Good partnerships depend on strong relationships, and strong relationships depend on trust, and trust is built through shared experience. “We needed to understand who we were as a partnership … and what it was that we were really trying to accomplish,” says de Dios, “and just sitting down to write out some kind of contract wasn’t going to do it.”
In this video, Lynne Ellis talks about the importance of taking the time to build relationships and better understand potential partners before simply jumping into a partnership. Too many people approach partnership from the perspective of trying to get others to “partner” with them, by which they mean getting others to support their program or project. But partnership is more than that. Partnership is working together to accomplish something beyond the capacity of any one individual.