Perfect Your Partnering Meetings
Though daunting, these problems are understandable. People can’t tell us who’s responsible in our partner organizations because they don’t know. In fact, we probably can’t answer such questions about our own organization. In science, all of our organizations need that kind of ambiguity in order to keep the fragile process of inquiry alive.
Effective partnering meetings provide a forum to manage the partnering process and increase partnering success. Meetings should be scheduled closely enough together to address issues and track action items, but separated enough so participants can implement plans. Meetings must involve the key players, usually a vertical cross-section in each organization—senior managers to give general direction, mid-levels to do the work, and grass-roots people to provide a reality check and hands-on insights.
Because partnering meetings build an infrastructure engaging two groups, they need an agenda that works intelligently on four tasks:
Taking stock. The whole group devises and tracks measures that accurately, objectively assess the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of partnering performance.
Building trust. The personality profile tools our HR departments use for leadership training—Myers Briggs, DISC, Personalysis, FIRO-B, etc.—all provide valuable insight to help people build the trust needed to bring organizational agreements to life.
Clarifying goals. Disagreements about partnering practices often trace back to differing interpretations of partnering goals. Every partnering group needs to discuss, write, and sign off on a set of 6–10 performance and communications goals they agree to aim for in order to make the partnering successful.
Implementing processes. Partnering groups ask what 3–4 key processes must work smoothly in order to achieve their partnering goals. They usually plan and implement processes for responding to changes, resolving conflicts and ensuring that all members of the group give and receive necessary information when and in the appropriate form required.
One word provides the criterion for assessing partnering meeting effectiveness: specificity. It’s nice if meeting discussions are interesting and participants are polite. It’s most likely for meetings to have lasting results if discussions are specific and result in detailed lists of who will do what when.