What's in a name?

Renewing a partnership agreement is a perfect time to ask how each partner defines the word ‘partnership’. Even with just two partners, it can be a challenge to have this conversation. But if you don’t have it, expectations for the partnership probably won’t be met.

Complacency is easier – just get the agreement signed and have a photographer on hand to capture the moment.

But think about it. Do you know what your partner means by ‘good working relationship’ or ‘mutually beneficial’? What does ‘open communication’ mean to each of you? Do you know what each partner is bringing to the partnership? Are you ‘co-creating activities’, or does one of you do all the leg work?

Do you have stories about the partnership that you can share easily with stakeholders, your staff and the media? Are partners sharing the same stories? Do these stories talk about the benefits of the partnership and its positive impact?

Think back over the past year. Was it easy to get someone on the phone at the partner organisation? Did meeting go ahead as planned or were they regularly postponed? And did the same people turn up? Did you get news and information about your partner from them, or did you hear things first through the media?

What’s in a name is important. I can give you a lot of definitions for the word ‘partnership’ but what really matters is what the partners think it means. It’s important to talk about it.