Keeping Things from Getting Stale

A stale partnership is best avoided, and should be quickly remedied if it occurs.
If you're finding that your partnership is losing direction, lacking new ideas or generally feeling a bit tired, then it has the usual symptoms of a "stale" partnership, which is unlikely to amount to a successful collaboration.
If your partnership has become stale, there are measures that can be taken to refresh it. The first step is to recognise that you have a problem and that it needs to be addressed.

How to Recognise a Stale Partnership

  • The partnership has very few or no new ideas.
  • There has been no planning or work to identify future possibilities.
  • There is little or no interest in the partnership among business staff or group members.
  • There is little or no communication.
  • Your partnership has not connected with the wider community, or there is no discernible community benefit from the project.
  • Partnership activities are not as successful as they used to be - the working bees don't attract as much interest, or the sponsorship arrangement isn't as mutually-beneficial as it once was.
  • Those driving the partnership no longer reflect the interests or needs of the partnership.
  • The size of the business or community group has changed, and the partnership has not altered or grown with that change.
  • There is an imbalance of benefits and burdens between partners.
  • There is little interest in meeting and when partners do meet, they debate for lengthy periods without resolution.
  • There are frequent disagreements about the next activity or the partnership's direction.
If a few of these symptoms ring true, it is time for you to consider some changes.

Questions to ask to start refreshing

The first and most important thing to remember if considering changes is why you want to change, and what you want to achieve.

Ask yourself:

  • What do you need to change to overcome any stale feelings? Do the changes involve:

    Partnership drivers or key personnel - for example, if those responsible for the partnership are out of ideas, or don't want to be a part of it anymore.
    The partnership model - if it is not addressing the needs or wants of both business and community group partners.
    Partnership activities - if certain activities (working bees, for example) are not enjoying the same level of success and participation as previously.
    Partnership structure - or who does what in the partnership.

  • Why are these aspects of the partnership - its structure, key personnel, models or activities - not working?
  • Will the changes you're considering result in a positive outcome?
  • Do members have any suggestions for change?

Convincing others of the Need for Change

While often the need for change will be felt by several people, you may need to convince others that something needs to be done.
The best way to do this is to gather clear and convincing examples of the problems and then sit down and discuss the issue with your partners.
Try to:
  • Articulate honestly but fairly what you feel is wrong, presenting evidence to support your point of view.
  • Make some suggestions as to what you feel could be some good, constructive solutions to the problem.

Ideas for Change

Refer back to the questions you asked earlier which helped you identify the cause of the problem.

  • If the problem is linked with partnership personnel, consider injecting some new blood by promoting a deputy or expanding the number or diversity of partnership personnel.
  • If it seems the partnership model needs freshening up, consider changes in that area. For more help on this, refer to the Reviewing Your Partnership Help Sheet, as well as the Changing Your Partnership - Business and Changing Your Partnership - Community Group Help Sheets, available at the Community Business Partnerships Brokerage Service section of the Our Community website.
  • If the activities your partnership is involved in seem a little flat, do some brainstorming to develop some new ideas. Also, think about not only what you do, but how often you do it - if you hold a working bee once a month and hardly anyone attends, think of holding bigger working bees once every two months.
  • If the structure of your partnership seems to be causing some staleness, conducting a review may be a good idea. The Help Sheet Reviewing Your Partnership, also available at the website, can help both business and community groups review the structure and details of their partnership.