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[ Contents ]

Organising local partnerships

Chapter 2
Principles, rules and foundations
of a successful partnership


2.2 Building one's partnership


    2.2.2 A few principles and rules of operation to move forward

Starting conditions for consolidating an action

The necessary adaptation of the partnership to the needs of the development action is an opportunity to first specify the starting conditions, without which it is doubtful that a local partnership can be created:

  • realism - the objectives and deadlines for completion set by the partners must always be credible;

  • pragmatism - the partnership is seeking responses to clearly identified needs, for which tangible and rapid results are expected, even if this means discovering other opportunities and the importance of longer-term debate;

  • relevance - a tool at the service of the action, the partnership must make it possible to move forward,break deadlocks and create acceptable solutions;

  • sharing a common vision of the area, which, of course, will be enriched as the development project progresses.

The partnership which is built little by little on concrete concerns ensures the advance of a development action. It gives it a boost and enables it to be gradually consolidated through the discovery of its true foundations, which, apart from the simple implementation of micro-economic projects, are generally:

  • the creative enrichment and innovative capacity that allows multi-sectoral dialogue between the social groups;

  • the support of a favourable social environment and the discovery of solidarities which are created from a modification of behaviours and the promotion of a renewed identity, open to the outside and to the future;

  • anticipation and the strategic debate, which give a feeling of security and enable the partnership to be better positioned in a competitive context;

  • in short, the awareness of a common good, which unites people in the area in which they live through specific interests. Evidently, the consumption of a financial budget and the assembly of certain selected projects are then no more than a stage or a mere opportunity when such an awareness was attained through the partnership approach.

Rules of operation giving concrete expression to a "small steps policy"

The inter-relation between the partnership action and the development action that it must promote also implies observance of a set of operating rules. However, it should not be forgotten that these "rules of the game" draw their source as much from the capacity of the individual partners to manage human relations as from the basic principles of any social communication. That is to say that these few rules are only very ideal markers and that what is important is the way in which they are applied.

In this respect, the partnership is a "small steps policy" and one of "mutual recognition" based on:

  • openness and flexibility allowing the greatest number of people possible to take part in the approach and to guarantee the diversity necessary for creativity and innovation;

  • listening, respect and confidence, in order to overcome the surface opposition, integrate the different points of view and reach agreements rather than vague consensus;

  • mutual understanding, which makes it possible to discover what the various partners know how to do and can do, recognise one's own skills and quickly find the best way of organising oneself and sharing responsibilities when faced with a given situation;

  • understanding of and adaptation to the needs of the different social groups which give a human reality to the area, in order to motivate, mobilise and make the entire population responsible;

  • transparency and the concern to communicate, so that everyone may be part of the action and so that mentalities change;

  • the personal and social calling into question of each partner, his role, function and action, in order to generate support and commitment;

  • a necessary strong boost, usually given by a limited core of people, guaranteeing the cohesion of the project as a whole and preventing the sprinkling of actions.

These rules must eventually lead to a new division of responsibilities, which takes full advantage of each person's recognised or discovered abilities.

It is easy to understand that building a partnership is initially a rather fragile learning process because there is no room for error.

It is also seen that there is always a phase of assertion where the founder members, a strongly unified group, seek to assert their abilities and their will to earn recognition from the other actors.

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