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Principles, Not Playbooks Drive Partnerships

By Jocelyne Daw 

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are more and more seen as a key way to tackle the complicated and complex challenges we face as a society. I am a great champion of the power of partnership and believe that they can really make a significant difference. However, too many collaborations jump head first into the partnership without considering the complicated mechanics of ‘how’ to successfully partner.

The most effective partnerships are co-created and co-managed. They are fit for purpose solutions to a pressing issue in a specific context with a particular group of people and organizations – with all their respective capacities and imperfections.

While this co-creation approach is foundational, every partnership and context is different. What works in one circumstance will not necessarily work in another. The fact remains that there is no playbook or instructional guide that can ensure partnership success.

So what can you do to help give your partnerships the best chances at success? I believe that the following five ‘principles’ are the key to successful partner relationships. Principles can ensure that the challenges we face in partnerships are addressed through agreed upon values and core beliefs.

If partners live by core principles and use them as touchstones to guide and drive their partnership work, the chances of success are strong. So what are the five core principles of partnership?

Principles must address the underlying challenges of partnership and deliver positive outcomes. The Partnership Brokers Association through the direct experience of trainers and trainees, have identified five common challenges in the partnering experience. In turn, five principles have been identified as antidotes, critical ways to address these challenges and ensure outcomes that give partnerships the best chance of success.


These five principles are applicable to all partnerships. When partners commit to and hold each other accountable for these principles there is a strong chance that their partnership efforts will be rewarded with unexpected and imaginative responses and ideally, some truly breakthrough results.

A successful partnership requires highly skilled individuals that have the tools and skills to facilitate cross-sectorial collaborations.  If you’d like to strengthen your skills, register now for Partnership Brokers Training. This four-day course will provide you with the insights and tools you need to deliver positive partnering results. BONUS – the Canada-Alberta Job Grant can help cover the cost!  Contact Gemma Dunn to find out more.