Omg, I love Seth Godin. If you aren’t a subscriber, I strongly recommend that you become one. I read his short blogs religiously. I read the title a couple of nights ago: time to get back to magic. Not time to get back to work but time to get back to magic. It made me think about the impending changes to restrictions in Melbourne. I’m longing for the days where I can stretch my mind and think continuously for more than 5 mins without a ‘Mum, watch this’ interruption (love my little darling). It’s made me realise that there is a very important part of being a partnership manager that is often ignored. The one that I love. The main one that I still love practising now. That is…thinking creatively.
How many of us dedicate time to that creativity? Especially when in a busy role as a partnership manager. A job where there is always something to do. I implore you to do this. It’s the thing I’ve missed the most over these past 10 or is it 14 weeks of stay home restrictions.
Creativity and a solution focused attitude are crucial to partnerships. You can be faced with 100 different business problems and need to come up with solutions to them. How do you do this systematically?
Here are some ways that I tackle creativity and problem solving.
Give yourself space
The reason for this blog. You can’t create unless you have space to do so. You need time to think, time to plan and time to play. Defend fiercely some space in your diary to just think. Pinging from meeting, email to email can feel really productive but is it? You may cross things off a bottomless to do list but you are only servicing the needs of others. What are you creating? Google encourages their employees to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. It empowers them to be creative and innovate. In a similar way, The Smith Family has Innovation Lab days for the same reason. Is this why they are one of the best in Australia at corporate partnerships?
This is my best unsolicited advice to you. You experience your own special slice of life. It’s different to everyone else’s. Involve others to gain a picture of what you don’t know aboutTap . Years ago, I was establishing a prospect list for Save the Children. The targets were child safety brands. At the time, I was childless and had no children around me. I had no clue of the brands that I needed to target – not even their names. I ran a workshop and invited team members of all different ages, backgrounds and made sure some of them were Mums and Dads. Without running a diverse workshop to capture these brands it would have been a very short prospect list. You don’t know what you don’t know. Tap into the minds of your colleagues to get a much fuller perspective.
Define the problem
What is the problem you are trying to solve? It’s not just hitting your budget for the year! What is the actual societal problem you can solve with a partner? If you can define this, you are 50% there. The other 50% is identifying your partner’s problem. Can you solve the societal problem and help their problem by partnering together? This is where the magic starts. The Australian Ballet identified a solution to a problem all of us parents in lockdown have been facing. How do you keep your kid entertained whilst you are on a zoom/ call? For one of its corporate partners they had a ballet dancer running ballet story-time and a ballet class aimed at keeping little kids occupied so their parents could complete some work.
Work out the best possible route
When you define a problem there can often be many solutions in partnerships. How do you work out which is the best one to present to a partner? That comes down to the level of investment you are willing to make in time and resources and the scale of the impact . As the partnership manager you need to offer the best fit solution depending on the partner’s appetite and the ambition of your organisation. Present one or two key activations that will light up their interest. Fred Hollows have done this really well with Spec Savers and have added multiple activations onto their partnership. Last year they launched two limited edition frames featuring the artwork of renowned Aboriginal artist and Gumatj leader, Peter Datjing Burarrwanga to help close the gap on vision loss between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Partnerships are a real buzz when you get them right. You’ll know it if you do this job. It’s what keeps you interested in the role. This hinges on your ability to provide creative solutions to business and societal issues. This puzzle solving buzz is the magic that we create, and the impact means so much to so many. How often are you setting time aside to enable this magic?
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