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Forming Partnerships in the Academic Environment

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Forming Partnerships in the Academic Environment

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  1. Forming Partnerships in the Academic Environment By Don Harris Vice Provost and CIO Emory University

  2. Official Disclaimers • Higher Education is political • The CIO must operate in this environment • The reason to form and maintain partnerships is often politically motivated • This presentation has a lot of political overtones • Take what is helpful to you for your situation and leave the rest

  3. What is Partnership? • An alignment between two organizations that shows itself in truly collaborative working arrangements • This is far from the vendor-customer relationship many IT units have with their administration or faculty

  4. Reasons to Partner • Working together on common goals • Especially those of critical institutional importance • Increased likelihood of funding for projects • Link projects to academic goals and not IT • Greater leverage in working with others • This involves those on campus as well as vendors • Having someone to watch your back • Critical to allow your partner to tell you what you don’t always want to hear, for example what others are saying about you

  5. More Reasons to Partner • Increasing the ability to deal with problems when they occur on a project • For example, when a vendor doesn’t deliver • When resources aren’t being brought to a project by a campus unit • When cost overruns are encountered • Having someone to celebrate with when objectives or projects are accomplished • Joint successes have long lasting positive effects on all participants

  6. Finding Common Ground • Use your strategic planning process to seek partners with common goals and objectives • Bring others into your planning process • Identify threads through plans that might lead to partnership agreements • Be sure that what you are identifying has institutional support • Make sure players are identified at several levels in both organizations • Partnership agreements between leaders only is not effective

  7. More Common Ground • Be sure to identify roles each group will play and how decisions will be made in the partnership arrangement • What resources will be deployed by each group? • How will additional resources be acquired? • How will impasses between staff be resolved? • How will funds be deployed for the project? • How will project progress be measured? • How and who will give reports to senior management?

  8. A More Political Approach • Take a systems approach to your campus • Identify the players and their roles • Identify the interaction between players • Seek to better understand the strengths and dangers of partnership arrangements • Align yourself and your organization in a way that promotes your goals

  9. Know Your Potential Partners • What are their backgrounds? • What are their interests? • Who do they partner with? • What (or who) influences them? • What are their “hot buttons”? • Where are there rifts between players? • What is their history with your organization? • What do they think about you?

  10. Understanding your Partners • Read what they write • Listen to their speeches • Formulate good questions and engage them in discussion about their area of interest • Invite them to present to your staff • Have your organization engage their organization at several levels • Collaborate with them in presenting or writing

  11. Seek Understanding of Dynamics • Is one player stronger than the other? • What role do you play in each partnership? • Do partners have different business drivers? • How does campus governance affect the partnership? • Think about how you want to be identified with your partner • Convenience • Business necessity • Common goals • Long term strategic importance

  12. Political Savvy: Systematic Approaches to Leadership Behind-the-ScenesbyJoel R. DeLuca, Ph.D.EBG Publications 1999



  15. Ways to Strengthen the Partnership • Conduct joint activities between groups • Management workshops (e.g., MBTI) • Training or professional development • Field trips to institutions with common interests • Have regular meetings • To assess work towards partnership goals and objectives • To allow leadership to discuss concerns or new opportunities • To just allow the staff to get to know each other better

  16. More Ways to Strengthen… • Look for ways to interact with partners • At campus social events like receptions • At arts programs • Before or after regular senior staff meetings • Also seek to better understand your partners’ professional interests • Attend the conferences they attend • Interact outside the office on their “turf” • Invite them to your IT conferences and introduce them to your colleagues

  17. A Few Pitfalls to Avoid • Be careful what you say and write • Remember your partners also have partners • Be very careful in email which is easily forwarded • Be sure that project reports and budgets are reviewed by leadership of both groups • Don’t send out anything “official” before all issues are worked out with your partner

  18. More Pitfalls • Be careful that you don’t get tagged with any “bad press” your partner receives due to their poor management • Learn how to distance yourself from your partner when he or she isn’t pulling their share of the load • Protect yourself and your organization from financial problems your partner may encounter

  19. Being Visible as Partners • Develop joint “press releases” and stories for campus publications • Also consider joint brochures, web sites, articles and even videos • Feed news items to the campus paper, newsletters, alumni magazine, etc. • Be sure to emphasize that you are addressing institutional goals and not your personal agendas

  20. Celebrate Your Joint Success • Look for ways to capitalize on the results of successful partnerships • Awards for your staff, conference presentations • Strive to be seen as an organization with which others wish to be associated • Be prepared to prioritize and say no to some requests for partnerships • Use success to strengthen your organization and seek funding for other initiatives

  21. Think About Partnerships Outside Of Your Own Institution • Identify partnerships that might already exist • Consider how you might partner with another institution to support collaborative work • Hold joint meetings to consider projects and exchange opportunities • Also seek to involve faculty and administrators in these discussions • And don’t forget about EDUCAUSE regional conferences and other events where you can explore partnership opportunities

  22. Ending a Partnership • Possible reasons to end a partnership • When your partner is leaving the institution • When your partner becomes a liability • When your goals are no longer mutual • When your priorities (or resources) shift • Some ways to bring about an end • Have partnership linked to annual plan • Have specific timeframe to review partnership • Use your regular meetings to redefine goals