1.1 Planning a partnership

The term ‘partnership’ implies equality in terms of control or power; however, this is rarely the case. A ‘partnership’ is a contested concept – it is unusual for it to be straightforward and equal. For example, if one partner has access to greater resources than others, it is likely that the more resourceful partner will be considered, or consider themselves, to be relatively more in control. Challenges or breakdowns within partnerships can have significantly negative impacts on a project or activity.

Figure 1 reinforces how thinking through the stages of a partnership and planning its development has the potential to build a stronger and more effective relationship.

Vertical flow chart diagram with five boxes. Box 1: Think through the phases of the partnership, Box 2: Plan the development of the partnership, Box 3: Build stronger relationships, Box 4: Create a more effective partnership, Box 5: Deliver great results.
Figure 1: Planning partnerships can help deliver better results

The Building Partnerships Map lays out the series of stages that a partnership often involves. You can use it together with partners to plan a partnership, determine the current stage of partnership through which you are progressing, agree where you would like to be, and plan activities that will help you move forward together and build a strong partnership together to achieve your common goals.

The Building Partnerships Map can be used prior to establishing a partnership or, subsequently, at any stage of the partnership.

The development of a partnership is rarely a step-by-step series of events. In practice, partnerships tend to evolve from prior relationships or personal contacts; time is often limited and key people are not always available when needed.

It is important to understand that the Building Partnerships Map should be adapted based on your specific needs and circumstances, and to emphasise certain relevant issues – all partnerships are different and have different needs.

Key points

  • A ‘partnership’ is a contested concept.
  • The Building Partnerships Map lays out a series of stages that a partnership often involves.
  • The Building Partnerships Map should be used flexibly.

1 The Building Partnerships Map

1.2 A case study