Knowing what you don’t know

Proportion
Categories: Blog

My 90 year- old mother is a very traditional English woman. She remembers the spirit of the Blitz in WW2, tends her garden and loves her Sunday roast. For many years she was deeply suspicious of ‘foreign food’, despite being married to my father, who hails from China. Whenever we visited a Chinese restaurant, she ordered an omelette and chips.

Then one day, when the omelette was off the menu, she did a rethink. She tried something new. She overcame her doubts and opened her mind to the wonders of chilli prawns. Now she’s unstoppable and has embraced everything from Italian pasta to Korean BBQ.

There is enormous power in knowing what you don’t know and being prepared to rethink your views.  In rethinking you open up new learning and a panoply of different solutions.

How are you rethinking your approach to corporate partnerships?

Breaking down myths

We can choose our views and we can choose to rethink them any time we want. If we hadn’t done so, women wouldn’t have the vote, slaves would work the fields and we’d all be using Betamax video recorders. Some people think corporate partnerships are too hard, only for big non-profits and the ones with sexy causes. But if someone as unglamorous as the Soil Association UK can build a portfolio of corporate partners, then you’ve got no excuse. During 2020 at the height of the COVID pandemic, organisations with corporate partners grew their partnerships income by 51%. Overall corporate giving rose by 23% despite a fall in company profits. Time to rethink the myth that corporate partnerships are too hard and position yourself for a piece of the growing pie.

Build your confidence through competence

Were you watching the Olympics recently? Every four years we all become armchair experts in sport ranging from gymnastics to fencing and weightlifting. It’s like shouting at your football team, because you know better than the coach what they should be doing. The willingness to offer an opinion on anything is usually in inverse proportion to the level of competence on that topic. In his book Think Again, the author Adam Grant describes it as being “stranded at the summit of Mount Stupid.” It looks like this:

Build your competence through continuous learning and being curious to embrace new approaches. Corporate partnerships have evolved from traditional philanthropy and sponsorship to strategically aligned, social impact partnerships. Be prepared to rethink your approach and unlock the bigger potential beyond simple funding for your program.

Don’t cling to the same tools

Let go of tools and knowledge that no longer serves you. If you’re still approaching corporate partners with a gold, silver and bronze package, then ditch it right now. Even arts organisations, which had traditionally focused on sponsorship, are rethinking their approach. The partnership between Mirvac and Sydney Biennale is a great example of an organisation that has embraced a bold new approach.  COVID has forced us to rethink everything from travel to shopping to remote working. How many of us are working in heels and a suit? We’ve replaced them with something more comfortable that fits our current situation. Don’t cling to the same tools when there could be better solutions and bigger opportunities.

Be curious

Rethinking doesn’t mean you have to ditch everything you’ve ever known. It’s about being humble enough to realise that you have something to learn and curious enough to discover something new. The Smith Family are leaders in corporate partnerships and have won awards for being one of Australia and New Zealand’s most innovative companies. They continually challenge themselves and strive for improvement. When did you last invest in updating your skills?

As for my Mum, she may have embraced ‘foreign food’ but the only rice she’ll eat is in a tin, covered with milk and sugar. She’s done a lot of rethinking, but not everything needs a new solution. Are you ready to rethink what you know?

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