Radical Collaboration: Running your own partnership-building workshops

Top tips for facilitating stronger collaboration on your journey to scale with government

Following on from our first part of this blog series, which outlines the mindsets needed for embracing radical collaboration with government and other key partners, we are sharing our top three facilitation tips for partnership-building workshops.

These mindsets and facilitation tips reflect the learnings gathered during the piloting of a workshop concept that we co-developed and facilitated with three organisations each at various stages of their journey to scale with government but all of whom were committed to the ultimate goal of achieving government-owned solutions which have sustained impact at scale.

You can use these techniques when running your own partnership-building workshops to help partners shift their mindsets, enable open and honest discussions and build shared ownership.

It’s not just about getting money and government partners. It’s about aligning on the end goal and working collaboratively from the beginning.

— Hanna Baldwin, Partnerships Director at StrongMinds

Facilitation Tip #1: Role Play

Roleplaying exercises are helpful for all partners to step into the “shoes” of another partner – whether that be a social impact organisation, funder, or government – to reflect on their priorities and perspectives, and build empathy for the context and constraints they are working in. This approach is particularly helpful when certain partners are not present in workshops as it allows participants to gain some understanding of their perspectives, even in their absence.

In our pilot workshops, funder participation was a key challenge. A social impact organisation reflected that: “many funders would traditionally want to keep out of the operational aspects […] it requires time to get them on board”. Roleplaying was therefore a key technique that enabled us to bring in a funder’s perspective in other ways.

Facilitation Tip #2: Imagining Failure

During the workshops, we asked participants to imagine it being 5 years into the future, and that sadly, their efforts to embed and sustain the intervention in the government system had failed. We asked them to consider: Why did the partnership fail?

As a result, participants were able to voice their biggest concerns and imagined risks, co-develop plans to mitigate against these concerns and tackle challenges collectively as opposed to viewing certain concerns as one partner’s problem.

Facilitation Tip #3: Centre Government Voices

A huge barrier to success is lacking a deep understanding of government perspectives, priorities and systems. By continuously circling back to government partners, social impact organisations shifted their mindsets to see themselves as an ally to their government partner; someone who can support the efforts to build buy-in across different governmental levels and departments, rather than this challenge being left to the government partner to tackle alone.

One social impact organisation in the pilot workshops noted: “The workshop reinforced the importance of communicating, not just with the district level, but with the central level ministry and informing other government stakeholders and working groups, to inform them about what we were working on and what it looks like.”

Bringing all partners together in an open, safe space to share experiences is a critical step in shifting towards a more collaborative partnership. Protecting the time to come together as partners outside of day-to-day activities can be challenging but the results are worth it.

We really liked the session. It was great that we could get our government and funder partners there, and have all three partners discussing together.

— Dimpal Kumari, Project Officer at Foundation for Ecological Security

Do you want to take part in a collaborative partnership building workshop and learn the mindsets needed to embrace radical collaboration? Or are you interested in receiving bespoke consultancy support to go further on the journey to scale with government? Get in touch with Meg Armishaw, Spring Impact Consultant.

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Do you have the mindsets needed to scale with government?

Read the first blog in this series to learn 4 lessons for radical collaboration.

Click here

Further Insights

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