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November 28, 2014
| by Terry Pickeral
In the modern economy and in most communities in history, organizations depend on collaborative partners to be successful. Even entrepreneurs and artists, who rely on innovation and creativity and are often independent operators, need partners to assist in design, production, distribution and marketing. And, in an era of specialization and customization, nobody does it all (at least not well).
There are many organizational theories and strategies on creating and ensuring quality business partnerships. Most of them come with the assumption that partnerships are an “added value” to any organization. But, this may not be the case. And, even if it is at first, a partnership may outlast its utility.
Partnerships are relationships. They evolve and change over time. In my experience, once a partnership is formed and on solid ground, the focus moves from the early developmental stages to sustainability – ensuring the partnership endures. But, perhaps not all partnerships should endure. Some partnerships endure long past when their initial sense of purpose has expired. I have been a part of and watched countless partnerships become about sustaining the partnership, not the work the partnership was created to support. And as a result, I have seen countless hours and dollars invested for questionable ends and limited results.
Why isn’t exit and option for our organizational partnerships? As someone dedicated to inclusion, I do not take this strategy lightly and I am constantly challenging myself and others to create and sustain collaborations. However, we have to recognize when some partnerships simply loose their added value and the work it takes to maintain the partnership could be put to better use.
It is incumbent upon organizational leaders to make the difficult decisions, to do what is right for the organization. If we don’t, no one will.
So, when we begin to feel that a partnership is not growing and evolving to meet current challenges, is not aligning with new strategies and directions, is consuming resources beyond its value, we must have the courage to end it.
About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.