Creating a Partnership Ecosystem
Palladium led the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit Strategic Dialogue on "Practicalities of Partnership Building: Best Practices from the P3 Impact Award Finalist".
In September, representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors convened at the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit. Palladium's Director of Thought Leadership Eduardo Tugendhat facilitated a roundtable discussion on “Practicalities of Partnering Building: Best Practices from the P3 Impact Award Finalists” and was joined by Palladium's Sebastian Rubens Y Rojos. The roundtable included over 24 firms and development partners sharing their own experiences in creating public-private partnerships.
The roundtable explored a range of topics on public-private partnerships and concluded that the following are the most important features for building a partnership ecosystem.
Revisit the definition of “success”
Each side of a partnership may have different motives; mixed with changing environments – political, community, shareholder demands – so it’s important to keep revisiting what “success” looks like. The strategy conversation should go beyond the planning stage and instead be an ongoing conversation, which can ensure partners stay transparent and grow in sync.
Take the long view
Successful partnerships solve societal problems, not just sell products. This means the private sector must look past quarterly performance goals and much farther ahead to multi-year outcomes — something the public sector is well-equipped to help do.
Every member of the partnership has to see a return on the investment. Even the public sector, which may not be accustomed to prioritising “the bottom line,” can play a critical role by covering start-up costs or buying down risk. The United Nations is beginning to understand that successful partnerships must be profit-generating, and has established a set of financial instruments to help early stage enterprises — a great incentive to attract private sector partners. This is a huge step in the right direction, and shows a shift that the “bottom line” is not negative, but is understood to create longer-lasting, more sustainable outcomes for all members of the partnership.
Check your pace
Partners must develop a disciplined approach based on the program milestones and the capacity of the other members. It is often the case that a private sector partner can easily grow too fast, eclipsing the capacity of the public sector partner. The key is balance.
Trust is essential
A partnership-building proverb states “trust is essential, but difficult to develop.” Often a local community may be wary of a private sector or government partner’s true motives. This distrust can quickly dissolve a partnership, so the key is to build trust from the beginning. A tested tactic is to engage a neutral, third party, like Palladium, that has long-term relationships or expertise in the local context and can help develop dual-party propositions that benefit everyone.
Building a sound exit strategy
A strong exit strategy helps ensure true long-lasting impact of partnerships. Monitoring and Evaluation is needed to track outcomes and the sustainability of partnerships, but this component is not often built-in to budgets. Additionally, improved data collection helps unlock best practices.
You can watch the full discussion here.