Our Leading Places pilot programme in partnership with the Local Government Association and Universities UK facilitates innovating and exciting new partnerships between local councils, universities and others in six places: Brighton, Bristol, Coventry, Gloucestershire, Manchester and Newcastle/Gateshead. At the first national peer review event, project representatives offered insightful experience about how to succeed in a local partnership project.
Four pieces of advice stood out:
1. Where to begin?
The project group is established. How do you decide what specific project would have maximum benefit? How will the different stakeholders agree on a point of interest?
If this is your first partnership with another anchor institution, start small and realistic. Smaller projects in health, public health and social services can have a large impact on long-term growth, and can provide the foundation for future projects.
Many of the pilot projects are founded on health and social care issues, ranging from an ageing population to increasing levels of obesity.
2. Shared language and understanding
An understanding of how different institutions work is important when designing the project delivery and arranging meetings.
Something as simple as using acronyms can be confusing when working with others not in your sector, so it is important to use Plain English.
Think also about timing clashes. For example, many local councils are particularly busy during election time in May. Universities have very different cycles of work.
There is often a difference between universities and councils in capacity and resource. It is important to understand how you and your partners are used to delivering projects (for example, public or private funding, external pressures, project stipulations), but also to challenge these perceptions.
With many stakeholders involved in a project, discussions can be saturated with different ideas. This is great for creativity, but it is difficult to pinpoint an idea that can be taken forward into action.
Have the appropriate mechanisms in place to ‘cut back’ on these ideas after engaging with all relevant organisations.
4. Commitment at all levels
Support for the project needs to extend beyond the senior leaders. Information on the project needs to be delivered horizontally and vertically across all organisations to ensure support, which will make the partnership sustainable.
Our national showcase event will be taking place on the 28 March 2017. It will illustrate the fantastic work being done, and provide information on how institutions can be involved in the next phase. For updates on this event, please join our LinkedIn group.
Image © Chris Sharp