Ideas in Action: Innovative Ideas for Sustaining Regional Partnerships

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 | Vinayak Reddy

“How do we keep our partners engaged? After all, the work can be tough at times, but it never ends. It can take a lot of energy, but how do we continue to generate that needed energy and enthusiasm?”

Partnership leaders know the answers to these questions are tough. But their answers are integral to forming functioning partnerships that sustain regional development over time. Safal recently set out to help answer these questions and look for innovative ideas from the field by interviewing partnership leaders and experts to find out what makes regional partnerships succeed. Over this year-long project with the U.S. Department of Education, we heard a lot of the same challenges, including:

  • Keeping partners engaged over time;
  • Communicating and marketing success; and
  • Overcoming tensions and conflicts within the partnership.

But, we also heard innovative ideas to overcome these issues:

  • Maintain the energy – Be sure to create buzz and excitement when launching the partnership. More importantly, keep the momentum over time. Reserve portions of your meetings for individuals to spotlight their organizations. Have field trips where you visit different offices or sites. Partnerships are a chance to collaborate so make sure people want to come to meetings and participate.
  • Gather data – Partnership members often need to rationalize their time to their leaders or employers. Consider establishing measurable goals and tracking how the partnership is meeting these targets. Showing data that demonstrates improvement is an effective tool to convince stakeholders the partnership is driving results. Be sure to celebrate achievements among members.
  • Select neutral leadership – Partnerships should advocate for the collective interests of the whole group. Select a leader or lead organization who can steer the partnership towards broad goals. Often, even the perception of bias can cause distrust and disengagement. Scan through partners and find individuals who are trusted in the community and who do not have obvious one-sided motives.

As part of the project, Safal hosted four interactive webinars where we invited participants from industry, K-12, post-secondary, government, and local agencies to dive deeper into challenges manufacturing partnerships face. Representatives shared their issues and solutions and had the chance to talk through their questions with presenters. These lessons and takeaways can be helpful for all types of partnerships and sectors. To learn more and view the webinar recordings, visit this page.