The fourth of ISPI’s performance improvement standards is partnerships.  Simply stated this means, “do your work collaboratively.”  At a minimum every project needs a stakeholder and content expert.  ISPI also includes specialists as necessary participants in the development of any performance intervention.  Specialists can be anyone who has a unique skill required to complete the project.  In the past I have worked on projects with data analysts who created data collection instruments and used data analysis software to draw conclusions from our data.  I have also worked with multimedia developers who were experts in creating engaging e-learning.  Identifying the right specialist and clearly defining their role is a significant challenge but can determine the success project.

ISPI identifies three milestones for collaboration: setting goals, deciding what steps to take, and implementing the solution.  These milestones represent the bare minimum for effective collaboration.  Ongoing communication is often the deciding factor that determines the success or failure of a project.  You can have rock solid executive sponsorship, world-class experts, and award-winning specialists and still fail if you do not communicate regularly and effectively.

There is no formula for selecting the right frequency, mode, and depth of communication.  According to ISPI, it is the role of the performance technologist facilitate communication between all the parties involved in the project.  This should not be seen as a power grab.  If the performance technologist is complying with ISPI’s standards they should understand the project better than anyone and be prepared to raise issues that need to be discussed, facilitate solutions to problems, and ensure the final outcome meets the needs of the organization and expectations of the sponsor.

What are the benefits of working in partnerships?  I can’t possibly come up with all of them (and I wouldn’t expect you to read them all if I could).  Below is a short list.

  • Strong sponsorship ensures the team will have access to essential information, data and assistance
  • Utilizing the right specialists builds trust in the capabilities of the team
  • Frequent communication establishes confidence in decisions and progress
  • Views of all vested parties are sought and addressed

What has your experience been working in partnerships?  What benefits have you experienced?  What horror stories have you dealt with?