We Are Partners

We had the opportunity to meet with some wonderful international colleagues a few weeks ago and it was a refreshing and opportune time. It was a reminder and encouragement to me that we are a body of professionals and a network of colleagues working together to accomplish the same goal, that is to strive to provide life in all its fullness to children; and for our supporters and partners, praying they would have the will to make it so.

World Vision is an international federated partnership. One of our values is that ‘We are Partners’. This value is so crucial to our work given that we work in over 100 countries, and have offices in most of those countries with a makeup of staff that is very diverse. We cannot transcend the cultural, language, and context barriers without of a spirit of partnership. In our line of work, we need to get this right because it is a matter of life and death.

Here is a brief excerpt from WV’s value, We are Partners:

We are members of an International World Vision Partnership that transcends legal, structural and cultural boundaries. We accept the obligations of joint-participation, shared goals and mutual accountability that true partnership requires. We affirm our interdependence and our willingness to yield autonomy as necessary for the common good. We commit ourselves to know, understand and love each other.

In the COSO model (an internationally recognized internal control framework) the components of internal controls can be broken out into what is known as hard controls and soft controls. The hard controls are those formal documented processes and policies that give guidelines within the organizational governance structure of organizational expectations and aspirations. Soft controls are more cultural and informal, or what is formally known in COSO as control environment or tone from the top. Which controls do you think have more of an influence, hard controls or soft controls? Which controls have more of a chance to change behavior? Most people would say that it is the soft controls that can more positively influence change.

Large organizations are typically more prone to groups and areas of expertise working within a silo mentality often due to the nature and amount of work, complicated communication structures and differing divisional goals and objectives. What often gets lost or misinterpreted is the larger goal and mission of the organization that ideally all groups within the organization are working together to accomplish. It is inevitable that in any organization, we need to partner well both internal and external to our organization to get things done, to capture synergies, and to leverage the multiple strengths and expertise of the workforce. Ultimately, we need to partner in order to accomplish the mission.

How can we partner well? Here are some suggestions.

Mission centric – Keeping the mission central to all that we do is key to binding people together. If the mission is our priority and we are working towards the same goal, many differences and disagreements can be worked out.

Think win-win – This might sound cliché and it is but the principle rings true. When we consider each others needs and think through how we can work together for mutual benefit, we will often have a good outcome.

Making assumptions – Often we assume before we ask. Why do we do this and why do we think we are all-knowing? Maybe we don’t know as we ought to know. It is dangerous to make assumptions about what we each do. Especially if our assumptions lead us to act in a manner that side steps a partner. In a workplace setting, it is beneficial to believe that we are all competent in what we do and are subject matter experts in our fields of work. Not that this is always the case, but let us first give each other the benefit of the doubt. In this spirit, there can be respect, trust and mutual cooperation. It can also promote open lines of communication, transparency and disclosure.

Embrace diversity – Let’s face it. We are all different. And often in our differences, we annoy each other. However, it is our differences that also make us stronger when we work together and towards the same direction. We must complement, not compete.

Those are my two cents. I am sure there are lots more ideas out there and differing opinions. I am open to suggestion. Let’s talk.


1 Response to “We Are Partners”

  1. November 6, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Eline, good post. Yes, we are all different but I think we have more similarities than differences (Galatians 3:8).

    Diversity ensures that our auditors may have thought of issues in a different manner rather than what I may have. Using our diversity ensures that we add flavor to an audit (like a curry). God bless!

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