Part 16 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series
Before you start your partner exploration process, you need to analyze carefully your reasons for wanting a partnership, assess your abilities and assets, and especially your commitment to deliver your end of the bargain. A clear understanding and preparedness when entering into a cross-sector partnership comes only after a comprehensive internal assessment confirming that you're ready, willing and able to be a productive partner. In other words: you must first know yourself before you can reach out to others.
Who are you? Most organizations think they have a pretty good idea of who they are. They may have vision statements, mission statements, standard operating procedures, annual reports and/or press releases that tout their latest products, services, partners, achievements, etc. However, without analyzing your corporate culture, and especially how you’re seen by the public, you may not know who you really are.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos described your organization’s brand as “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Your brand, which is a fancy way of saying your reputation, is not who or what you think you are but how you are viewed by all who come in contact with your organization.
Taking the time to develop a clear understanding of what your organization really stands for and how it is viewed by the public is not only the necessary foundation for a successful cross-sector partnership, but for the success of your business in general.
Before you begin the Assessment Process, I strongly recommended that this process be led by your senior management, preferably your CEO or Executive Director. S/he must be involved in this cross-sector partnership conversation and Assessment Process, at least in the beginning stages, as this individual sets the overall tone, direction and strategy of your organization. I suggest that your Assessment Process team include several people from the list below, though a smaller organization may not have or need this deep a team.
• CEO/Executive Director
• Chief Marketing Officer and/or highest member of your sales or marketing team
• Director of Community Affairs and/or Public Relations Director
• Top representatives from your outside creative agencies (PR/advertising/marketing)
• Director of Human Resources
• A member of your Board of Directors, especially one whose business is marketing or creative services
• At least one well-respected employee
• At least one volunteer, if applicable
• A recorder: Someone to take detailed notes and serve as the communications link for all on this assessment team
The entire Assessment Process should take no more than two or three meetings, especially if notes are provided and next steps are determined as assignments for each member of the team to prepare for the next meeting. The length of this process depends greatly on the commitment of the team, leadership involvement, and how much work may have already been done by your organization.
In the course of this Assessment Process, problematic issues may arise - be sure to address them immediately. Such issues rarely go away and can be very embarrassing and a waste of time and money if not handled early and well. The key to this critical exercise is to ascertain if your company has the motivation, ability, personnel, budget and leadership to undertake a long-term partnership, with all of its inherent bumps and challenges…and rewards.
Step 1: What Do You Want to Do?
Step 2: Assess Your Company and Brand Perception
Step 3: Is Your Organization Ready for a Cross-Sector Partnership or Cause Marketing Campaign?
Step 4: What Do You Bring to a Partnership?
Step 5: Defining Your Partnership Team
Note: An electronic copy of the complete Assessment Process can be found at the free Resource Center at www.bruceburtch.com
Please visit www.bruceburtch.com for more information about cross-sector partnerships and Win-Win for the Greater Good.