Working with the underlying dynamics of partnership decision making

Working with the underlying dynamics of partnership decision making

A one-day, face-to-face, experiential workshop for those working in multi-sectoral partnerships – ONE WORKSHOP AVAILABLE for 2023/24

This impactful new workshop has been created from our experience of working with local partnerships, alliances and collaboratives, and recognising the range of challenges they face – some explicit, others somewhat ‘under the surface’.

This is a developmental workshop, not a training session, and it contains elements that colleagues may find challenging or uncomfortable. Our aim is to increase participants’ awareness of and ability to work with the underlying dynamics of partnership working.  It builds on the Strategy Unit’s core hypothesis that better public value outcomes flow from the use of better evidence within better decision-making processes.  Both the issues being addressed and the related decision-making processes need to take account of and to manage structural and social factors alike.

There is one opportunity remaining for a provider collaborative, place-based partnership or other partnership body within the Midlands ICSs during 2023-24. This is funded via the Midlands Decision Support Network, supported by ICS subscriptions, so is ‘free at the point of use’ to relevant groups.

It is aimed primarily at the board and/or executive team level of individual place-based partnerships, although the approach could equally be used for system-level bodies or provider collaboratives.

For partnership decision-making to function well, good processes are not enough: partners need a strengthened capability to work in multiple roles at the same time and to work with the personal and organisational dynamics that inevitably accompany such work.

The workshop helps participants to move to new levels of mutual understanding and collaboration. Previous participants have highlighted learning about:

  • Adopting a different mindset of ‘taking your organisation into the room’ rather than ‘leaving it at the door’;
  • How to genuinely implement cross system collaboration, not just talk about it;
  • How to lead together through strengthened local relationships and shared understanding;
  • How complex true collaboration can be, but how important it is;
  • The way the role play illustrated how our assumptions about our roles or organisations can constrain our contributions as partners;
  • How the aggregate results of our psychometric assessment identified our strengths and weaknesses as a team and think about how we want to address development areas.

The context

Health and care systems are going through another major transition. ICSs are starting to take on the weight of planning and accountability for achieving population health and wellbeing outcomes, involving:

  • health and care organisations across public and voluntary sectors working together to define and achieve population outcomes and to design and maintain the multiple, intersecting structures through which this will be done (including new Integrated Care Partnerships)
  • NHS organisations and Local Authority Social Care provision working together more closely, with a single person accountable for the delivery of shared plans
  • NHS organisations working together in provider collaboratives, as the balance shifts from competition towards cooperation
  • cross-sectors partnerships at ‘place’ level strengthening their shared planning and delivery, potentially with a more diverse range of partners than at system level, whilst also managing their ‘joint and several’ relations with the system.

And all this in the context of COVID ‘recovery’ and very significant and ongoing demand pressures in many services. The workshop is focused on supporting partners to manage the significant transitions and challenges that system and place-based working now requires of local leaders across the sectors.

In a very real sense, health and care is ‘betting the house’ on partnership working, but it is easy for things to go wrong or to struggle with getting real commitment and deep collaboration.

This is especially the case given that the dynamics around health and care, respectively, are both so powerful and so different.

The offer

This will be a highly distinctive experience for participants that:

  • is experience-heavy and theory-light in delivery, though firmly rooted in systems psychodynamics (and supported by other evidence-based approaches to working with complexity)
  • is practically focused on working together on decision-making
  • will enable participants to work more effectively with the hidden as well as the explicit dynamics of partnership working
  • will provide a variety of frameworks that participants can draw on – individually and together – as they return to their shared task
  • includes a psychometric assessment – ‘the Cambridge Code’ – that aligns with the psychodynamic foundations of the approach we are using and which results in a confidential report for each participant and a team profile showing pseudonymised key findings to support work on mutual understanding and team effectiveness.

The ask

Participation will require:

  • a protected day of colleagues’ time to come together face-to-face
  • completion of the psychometric assessment at least two weeks ahead of the workshop[N.B. This is a deeper, more personal assessment than other common approaches and participants will need to be prepared for this. We use this because it addresses participants’ innate and learnt ways of making decisions and how they naturally react to the world.]
  • completion of a post-event survey to inform the further development of this and other resources.

For place-based partnerships, we would expect participants to include the NHS (ICB and local providers), primary care leads, Local Government officers (public health, social care, children’s services) and the voluntary and community sector.

Workshops will generally be held at a local venue provided by the relevant partners/organisation, including lunch and other refreshments. Ideally the location will be neutral to the partners and not participants’ usual place of work. It should be able to comfortably accommodate c.20 people in a variety of formats. The suitability of the space should be confirmed with the Strategy Unit before the venue booking is made.

Workshop outline

Indicative content and timings for the workshop are as follows:


09:30 In at the deep end…. Introductory role-play, followed by an overview of the day
11:00 Break
11:15 From competition to collaboration
12:00 From positions to interests
12:45 Lunch
13:30 Straddling two worlds
14:15 Managing boundaries
15:00 Break
15:15 Finding, making and taking a role
16:00 Tying it all together
16:45 Close

For further information please contact or