by Leon Younger,
President, Leon Younger & PROS
The key to parks departments forming partnerships is to recognize our strengths and weaknesses - and recognize where private involvement can improve our position.
I. There is a role for public/private partnerships in parks and recreation management
Why establish public/private partnerships?
- The actual cost of providing government services is too high.
- It creates more budget capacity for your operating budget and it spreads the risk.
- Having alternative activities with partners spreads the risk.
- Merging resources helps to create a higher service delivery between partners.
- It creates entrepreneurial opportunities not always affordable to public agencies.
- It expands and changes the staff's mindset in creative thinking when you have to plan with your partner.
- It creates a market driven approach to service delivery versus a product approach.
- Service to patrons becomes the key to success to partnering.
- The expected cultures of each organization is heightened.
II. The New Paradigm of Reality
- Success ties us to the past and people resist implementing good ideas that were "not invented here."
- Use the "change process" to move towards public/private partnerships.
- Have ownership and belief that change is good.
- Passion, enthusiasm, and conviction to continuous improvement.
- Motivational skills are necessary to keep staff, volunteers, and you happy.
- Demonstrate the benefits of the change.
- Provide a sense of purpose and give to others.
- Communicate your results.
- Understand these management tools that put us in the partnership role:
- Activity Based Costing
- Consultative Management
- Continuous Improvement
- Cost Effective
- Capacity Utilization
- Cost Effective
- Matrix Management
- Strategic Thinking
III. What is Partnering?
There is yet no official description of this management process, but the nearest dictionary terms are described as:
An ally or companion
One of a pair of players on the same side in a game.
A contractual relationship between two or more persons carrying on a joint business venture with a view to profit, each incurring liability for losses and the right to share in the profits.
So partnering becomes a process by which you dismantle the pre-fabricated walls built up in the traditional client/contractor split and introduce a co-operative approach to business.
IV. Partnerships Require these Components
- Vision - A compelling picture of the possibilities
- Impact - Adding real productivity and value. The partner's capacity to deliver tangible results that increase productivity, add value, improve efficiency, and/or profitability.
- Intimacy - Closeness, sharing, mutual trust
- You must redesign organizational boundaries to make a relationship more productive.
- Mutual change is the basic source of impact in partnering
- Quality has to become an expectation rather than a bonus.
- Partnering requires information sharing on an entirely different level than traditional buying and selling. Partners share overall business and strategic plans, confidential information, and product expertise to get a win-win.
- The partnership requires an investment of time, money, energy, control, and elimination of duplication.
- Develop your partnership purpose so everyone knows, now and in the future, why you set this partnership up. You have to try to get to 50/50 where possible.
- You must have a good partner team established that is bias-free.
- Don't just look for the quick win.
- Establish a good measuring system to track your progress and your results.
- Using a facilitator makes a lot of sense in partnering.
V. Other Components to Include in Successful Partnerships
- Common goals and missions
- Each partner emphasizes and has a history of sound management and success.
- No personal agendas
- The agency's understood value and has communicated the value effectively to the partner.
- Similar interests and separate expertise
- Shared interest in servicing people better
VI. Forms of Partnerships
A. Investment Partnerships
- equity build out of 100,000 sq. ft. wellness center - equal sharing of cost and net income
- lease of space to physicians to house a wellness component with the agency
B. Event Partnership
- festivals, community wide special events
C. Park Partnership
- use of private sector and community members to build a gazebo, clean up a park, design an interpretive trail
- park improvements completed between the YMCA, the park and recreation agency and the community
D. Contractual Partnership
- concession agreement at a pool - $1,500 per month lease plus % of the net profits.
E. Not-for-Profit Partnership
- parking lot expansion for a church was paid for in exchange for use of the parking during large overflow events.
F. Inter-Agency Partnership
- joint ownership of a golf course among several governmental entities with a share of the net revenues.
- joint use of safety personnel between agencies
- resident rates for facilities not found in neighboring communities, i.e.. two communities, two varying facilities, both offer resident rates for each community
G. Product Partnership
- $2,000 annual contribution from Coke to permit scoreboards to be installed on ball fields
- Taco Bell contract to manage the pool concession operations
H. Park/School Partnership
- equal build out of gymnasium and/or classroom space at school for equal use by each entity
- park use of school before and after school for a latch key program
- park contract to manage school arts and physical education programs
I. City-wide / Agency Partnership
VII. Implementing the Partnership Agreement
- Understand each business organization's approach to a partnership.
- Establish mutual objectives and responsibilities together.
- Integrate a communication and reporting process strategy.
- Select a mechanism for identifying problems.
- Agree to find solutions without compromising quality, philosophy and finances.
- Establish length of commitment.
- Clarify liability issues
- Evaluate your partnership agreements.
- Measure the benefits each partner obtains regarding:
- Media Exposure
- Image Exposure
- Quality of Customer Satisfaction
VIII. Why Partnerships Fail
- Lack of commitment from one or multiple partners.
- Using partnership for personal gain
- The objectives lacked clarity.
- Greater than reasonable expectations from the partner.
- The agreement was not equitable - not considered a WIN-WIN.
- Hidden agendas on both sides.
- Did not communicate effectively and no follow-through.
Success ties you to the past. The factors that created today's success often create tomorrow's failure.