Have any of you entrepreneurs out there ever wondered if you should partner with other like-minded individuals either to grow your business or simply to stop working alone?
Since I started my business in 2009, I have swayed in my interest to partner with other like-minded consultants and coaches. I knew I had some sort of immunity to change or fear around partnering and rather than address it, I avoided it all together. Something was holding me back. In working through my immunity to change process (ask me about how I can help you with yours) I discovered that I had an assumption that I would not be able to do the things I really like and do them my way and since I was conflict-averse, it could only get messy.
Although I had no issues with collaborating partnering was different. For me there is a clear distinction between partnership and collaboration. Partnership is about relationships and collaboration is a process. When I speak of partnership, I am not necessarily referring to becoming legal business partners.
Allow me to use a metaphor to explain. A dear friend of mine gave me a personalized and signed book “The Crayon Box that Talked” by Shane DeRolf. “Once upon a time in a toy store, there was a box of crayons. The crayons in it just couldn’t get along. Yellow did not like Red, and neither, for that matter did Green. And ‘no one at all’ seemed to like Orange. As Blue pointed out, something was very wrong. But something very right begins to happen when a little girl takes these crayons home and starts coloring with them. They realize that the big picture they make together is ever so much more exciting and varied — yes, even dazzling! — than the small pictures they make alone. This is a simple little story with a big important message”.
In this storybook, I see the crayons collaborating together to create a dazzling picture. For that box of crayons, the crayons are the partnerships. Just like in any other partnership, having the right crayons is what will allow the collaboration of all the crayons to be successful in creating a dazzling picture. This helped me understand I needed to find the right partners for me.
The messy stuff in this story is the crayons not liking each other. What other messy stuff do partnerships potentially bring? — Visions may be different; need to relinquish control; it may not be done the way you want; need for consensus on decision making; it may take longer; things not getting done; some partners carry more weight; etc.
How about the advantages of partnerships? — Aligned vision; complimentary skills; ideas generation; community of practice; potential for more and larger contracts; collaboration; not working alone all the time and being part of something bigger; etc.
With respect to my own business, halfway through 2014 I made a conscious decision to give partnership a real try — no middleman to protect me — and jumped in knowing very well the messy stuff would happen. I found my own box of crayons — really. I chose to partner with a www.nextgenleaders.ca network buddy, Michael Bungay Stanier from www.BoxofCrayons.biz (BoC) — no relationship to the storybook. I became a Program Facilitator for the Box of Crayons Programs and found myself not only enjoying the work and travel — I love the entire team.
So here is how I see the difference between partnership and collaboration at BoC. Michael, Senior Partner of BoC hires program leaders — the crayons — trains them and sends them away to facilitate programs. This is clearly a partnership since the outcome of the facilitation has a direct impact on BoC reputation and there is risk involved. All of the BoC team working together to ensure the facilitation gigs rock — now that’s collaboration.
I realized I, can do this partnering thing after all. Ok, so I thought, this is an exception! Not really!
In the end, when we choose to partner and when everyone sees the value they bring we can create a bigger better more dazzling collaborative picture together.
Realizing I could do partnerships, in 2015, I partnered with the amazing Jamie Broughton and his team at Footprint Leadership for Executive Coaching and Facilitation.
This year, 2016, I am entering into partnership with Sheppard Partners, Integral Leadership and Coaching, Celebration Casinos and other organizations, including designing and leading a weeklong women’s retreat with a long time friend and confidant, psychologist Sylvi Lafontaine. Pretty neat huh! Partnerships galore!
So, if you too have an immunity to change or a fear (yup, the ‘F’ word) around partnerships (like I did) just give it a go — what’s the worst that can happen? Messy Stuff! And so, life is messy!! “Do it from a place of inspiration rather than fear”. Do it with someone you trust first and be clear on your boundaries. Know if the partnership is right, the collaboration will be valuable!
So here’s my challenge for you — If its not around partnership — make a commitment to do at least one thing you really want to do — pick something audacious, something you fear doing in 2016 and DO IT!
Still not sure about this — get a coach to support you — I can help you!