No organisation is an island!

There is an often-quoted philosophical Zen, which poses the question “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Of course, there is no definitive correct answer. The approach lies in the interpretation of the riddle and how each person perceives the problem. Such was the case with the Partnership Event 2018: it was up to Chris and I to mould this event and interpret it as we saw fit and to the benefit of our organisation.

The event was very different from what I had encountered in previous international events, such as The Academy. Here I was both the student and the teacher, learning from my fellow colleagues in Scouting and Guiding and teaching them too, about our unique organisation and the benefits of an all-female organisation. However, with the Partnership event, Chris and I had to sell Irish Girl Guides on a European level and explain why they should consider us as a viable partner.

The event allowed the transfer of knowledge through problem-based learning by providing us with information on partnerships that had been successful such as African Nation Partnership with Sweden as well as those that had struggled such as Guan’s partnership with Finland; it was a fantastic opportunity to see how partnerships evolved.

From the event, I realised that a Partnership is not a solo act, spending hours slaving away on an idea so that it is perfect: it must be a two-way system, therefore when choosing to collaborate  with another organisation, you have to have clear goals for both organisations. In reality, for a good idea to be carried to fruition, it relies on inputs from different people with colourful, innovative and creative perspectives gained by life’s experience, Guiding and Scouting practice and knowledge through doing. Chris and I were very lucky during the event to align ourselves with groups that were diverse through gender, age and Guiding/Scouting experience. From this, I have realised that to form an effective partnership, we must view team projects as a challenge as a multiplayer exercise and some parts will run smoothly and others will have hurdles to jump but it is vital that everyone buys into the overall goal. Partnerships cannot simply bring individuals together in a productive and creative way; they must illustrate the fact that the “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” (Aristotle).

On reflection, I have come to believe that to create an Exemplary Partnership, Guiding and Scouting organisations need to lead by example and, as future Partners, demonstrate the behaviours we wish others to exhibit, so that we can gain their commitment and together we can achieve high standards by inspiring a shared vision.

As an organisation, we must paint a picture that is clearly communicated and comprehensible, a pioneer that searches for innovation, growth and continuous improvement. I think Bob Marley’s words reverberate the overall meaning of the Partnership event – “Though the road’s been rocky it sure feels good to me”. Every successful partnership has its ups and downs but is worth it in the end.