Principles of Interprofessional.Global’s Consensus-based Partnership
Working interprofessionally in partnership reflects the unity we see in working with, for, and between service providers and service users. Partnership is one important way to demonstrate to the world the unity of a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach to health and social care. The following principles have been observed as significant in the development of effective partnerships, principles which are wholly consistent with IPECP. An adherence to these principles is much more likely to result in the establishment of an effective and sustainable IPECP partnership.
- Effective partners share openly with one another in all they do
Partners are empowered and refreshed by sharing knowledge, experience, and approaches with one another; listening to and learning from one another; and supporting and caring for one another’s personal needs, as well as for the work.
- Effective partnerships have a facilitator or a facilitation team
Partnership does not just happen. It takes a person or a team of committed people acceptable to all the partners to facilitate the work of the partnership, who serve the whole partnership, enabling it to function effectively.
- Effective partnerships have a clear purpose
Only a partnership that is formed to fulfil a specific vision is likely to be effective. Partnership for partnership’s sake spells failure.
- Effective partnerships identify needs before shaping structure
An effective partnership starts by identifying barriers to progress and from these agrees on priorities for action; it does not start by trying to establish conditions for membership or write a common Statement of Incorporation. Function (what the partnership can do) should always come before form (how the partnership is structured). Consensus is usually better than constitution.
- Effective partnerships have clear, well-defined objectives
Initially, these will be limited and must be achievable. However, they must also be significant enough to provide motivation for partnering. As the partnership experiences progress, the objectives can become more challenging.
- Effective partners keep their eyes on the ultimate vision
It is easy to focus on the “means” rather than the “end”. An effective partnership focusses on the long-term vision and what should be achieved to reach that end goal. It is important not to get distracted by maintaining the structure.
- Effective partnerships are built on relationships of trust, openness and mutual concern
Partnership is more than coordination and planning. The heart of partnership is strong and effective relationships demonstrated in action. Developing such relationships requires time and intentional effort. Effective partners are especially sensitive towards those from cultures and backgrounds other than their own.
- Effective partnerships focus on what the partners have in common rather than on what makes them different
Unity is encouraged by sharing things of the heart, like vision, values, and common goals. Discussing differences in philosophy, history and work experience, divides. However, it is important to acknowledge – even celebrate – these differences at times.
- Effective partnerships maintain a high level of participation and ownership by the partners
Ownership and commitment to the process of effective partnering is encouraged by wide participation of all the partners in decision-making.
- Effective partnerships impart the vision and skills for partnership development to all the partners continuously
It is important for partners to catch the vision for partnership and develop skills in partnering. This may include skills in partnership development and reinforcing the vision and goals of the partnership when the partnership meets. An effective partnership expects problems, especially at times of leadership change, and develops processes for managing them.
- Effective partnerships do not come free of charge
Just participating in a partnership costs time and money, so all partners are investing in some way. Deeper commitment involves an even greater investment, but the benefits more than outweigh these costs.
- Effective partners recognise that partnership is an on-going process, not an event
The early stages of developing a partnership take time. Call a meeting too soon and the process is likely to fail. The development of trust is essential before the potential partners come together. Once established, time for nurturing trust and processing issues is equally important. It is even more challenging to maintain a partnership than to launch one!
- Effective partners recognise that they have various constituencies whose needs must be acknowledged and whose contributions must be valued
There are more people and interests involved in a partnership than those sitting around the table. These include those who serve and support the partnership, the leaders and staff of the partner organisations, the people and entities the partnership is seeking to serve (users and providers of health and social services, systems for health, etc.), and the partnership itself. Effective partners understand the needs of each of these groups and seek to meet them. They also acknowledge and value the contributions each make.
- Effective partners celebrate
It is important for partners to frequently celebrate the achievements of the partnership as a whole, as well as those of individual partners.
- Effective partners have an ‘advocate’ for partnership in their own organisation
This is a person who sees how their own organisation can benefit from practical cooperation and who will share this vision with colleagues. Without such a person, the commitment of the organisation to the partnership is likely to be half-hearted at best.
- Effective partners have clear identities and visions
Partners who have a strong sense of their own identity, vocation, and calling are likely to be most effective. If the individual partners do not have a clear vision for their own organisation, they will have difficulty seeing what they can contribute to the overall partnership or how they can benefit from the joint effort.
Interprofessional.Global is serious about successful partnering with others. We therefore keep these principles in mind as we work with others to achieve the vision and objectives. Following these principles will enhance our likelihood of partnership being successful.