Partnerships and clusters were once flavour of the month, but now seem to be less supported, even if they're more necessary than ever. That emans that if you're ina  partnership and you want it to work, you've got to up your game. Many partnerships are nota  lot mroe than talking shops, while clusters have been created mainly to spend public money rather than to develop organically. If your partnership is not doing so well, what can you do?

Our suggestions are the following:

Do a health check exercise

Use an external consultant to identify key problem areas. We've produced health check document, free to registered users (registration is free - menu to the left), though you may need facilitation if this is to be more than self-assessment.

Write a Plan

Everyone prefers solutions to problems, so if you can write a plan which shows a way out of the mess then it has a good chance of being accepted. Concentrating on the solution rather than the problem will do you good as well.

Get the Partnership to think strategically

Often Partnerships are bogged down in operational issues and representation of specific interest groups – it may well be the background of representatives and why they're involved anyway. But it's not what they should be doing, particularly when there are paid staff for just this reason. They should be looking more widely at strategy – what the vision of the partnership is and what it will concentrate on over the next period of time. So how can we change their attitude? Good ways of doing this are to have an evaluation of what has been achieved and the strengths and weaknesses of the partnership: this will help to produce ammunition for any necessary changes. An away day for the Board + staff can also produce some clearer strategy (we've helped with a number of these), though it needs to have a clear outcome and not just be an “office jolly”. Both of these can be done internally, though an external facilitator can help in neutral chairing of difficult issues and enhancing the credibility of the exercise.