Last week, I and 20 others were lucky to spend two fascinating days in a workshop about partnering fascilitated by Ian Dixon (Dixon Partnerships Solutions) and Max Hardy (Twyfords). They are specialists in engaging people in partnerships.
About a year ago they formed a successful trainer partnership and have since trained Primary Health Partnership Council members and their prospective partners around Queensland on how to set up partnerships and engage in meaningful and strategic conversations with each other. Through these conversations the eventual partners gain skills in creating, developing and sustaining productive initiatives that contribute to the health and wellbeing of their communities.
I was astounded that there is so much to learn about this. I found that there actually is a structure to building strong partnerships. The workshop proved to be a very enlightening experience. Until now I have just gone from the assumption that to form relationships and engage in conversations is human nature. But now I know that some are far better at it than others. Not only that but engaging skills can be sharpened and used constructively.
I have always been good at networking and have understood that building and maintaining relationships is a natural part of my work in the community. However, as a skilled engineer, Ian has dissected the process of building relationships. He has made it to a structured process that can be used to form and build strong and healthy partnerships that are productive until it is time to ‘move on’. Ian’s way of structuring the partnering course of action is very useful and practical. I am looking forward to applying the acquired learning to my daily work practices.
Ian and Max work very well together. They have combined their skills in workshop practice and can really engage participants. Max is the social worker of the duo.
In the workshop he facilitated the exercises around the partnership building by introducing us to such very useful relationship creating and building tools as ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ and ‘Strategic Questioning’. “Research shows”, he explained, “that the way surveys and enquiries are laid out affect the results.”
Well, we knew that, but it was a surprise to get to know that the very process of the enquiry affects ‘how we are’. It is better to enquire into positives of experiences than fix the problems with negatives.
We were introduced to David L. Cooperrider (2003) and Fran Peavey (1994) and their thought processes in enquiring about the positive in human experience and putting their questions in such a forward thinking way that it contributes to the desired outcomes. We then practiced our newly acquired skill in groups. It was a well-organised learning curve for us all. In just two days we came out with a highly useful practical skill set. We also met new people and formed new relationships.
For me, this is always the best part of the workshops I participate in, getting to know everybody, sharing experiences and stories. I am looking forward to receiving newsletters and connecting with my new prospective partners through work and through social media.
COOPERRIDER, D. L. & WHITNEY, D. 2003. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change, San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
PEAVEY, F. 1994. By Life's Grace: Musings on the Essence of Social Change, USA: New Society Publishers.