Young: The coming wave of entrepreneurial partnerships

There is a new paradigm for progressive change upon us in the Okanagan.

Last week I had the privilege of sharing with you a new community-based partnership between the Scotiabank, Central Okanagan and the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society and, with some exciting innovative networks on the near horizon, I began this weekend to ponder the new paradigm for progressive change that is upon us in the Okanagan—entrepreneurial partnerships as a prelude to a new atmosphere for an entrepreneurial culture.  Yes, it has been talked about, perceived its existence, and even shouted from the rafters that it is evident—but, somehow, we just haven’t quite reached that pinnacle of achievement to celebrate that—we made it.  Until now.

There has been a considerable effort in trying to understand the psychological and sociological underpinings that entrepreneurship does indeed possess. Common characteristics have been noted among all entrepreneurs and most have a need for achievment, perceived locus of control, risk taking and intuitive logical reasoning. These participants also comment in the common yet not universal thread of childhood deprivation, minority memberships and early adolescent economic experiences.

Chalk it up to the roller coaster ride we are experiencing in our Canadian and global economy, or perhaps, we, as a society, are finally, warming to the realization that, if we belief that, we are, by nature, an entrepreneurial landscape—then, let’s celebrate that recognition with action.  Actions that let each other, no matter if we are in business or not, embrace the notion that entrepreneurship is a mantra for our socio-economic future and we can nurture its development and growth, or not.

Let’s take a look at some thought in this regard.  Partnerships often chart unknown territory.  Different forms of organizations with different internal structures, mandates, purposes, values and decision-making procedures may meet in a common space, often for the first time.  When people of different backgrounds decide to work in partnership towards a shared objective, they need to identify and accept the necessary development of their communication skills in order to progress with attainment of the common goals.

I would like to describe a view, from a conceptual modelling, that point to the main phases of development in multi-stakeholder partnerships.  In the first phase ( start-up if you like), it is going to be important to understand thoroughly the context for success, to build a group of supporting, relevant organizations, and to explore and exchange with potential partners, the purpose and vision without structure. ( oh, how I believe this point to be critically important—“ you want to create what?”)Once the new partners’ commitment is clear, it is crucial to move into the second phase (building the partnership) through a more formalized dialogue, to clarify roles and structures and lay down agreements in project plans and memoranda of understanding. (sound familiar, I’ll bet it is to many of you)

In the third phase (growing sustainably) attention will need to be given to a smooth implementation and the celebration of success.  At this point, perhaps, it is important to establish some monitoring systems with transparency and solid communication to help the partnership/s grow towards stability.  And, then, lastly, in the fourth phase  (scale-up and replication) the key to success is to manage the transition from the initial model of partnership towards a larger more substantial entity.

This sometimes requires new partners, governance structures or even a change of management of the process.  But, all in all, the entrepreneurial partnership creation can achieve untold community and regional gains, both personal and organizational.

I am excited by what I am witnessing and experiencing in my involvement with the world of entrepreneurship in our region.  The cry to work together instead of apart is being heard far and wide and our educational institutions are coming alive to the drum call for a new realization for entrepreneurship education and training that is wonderful and welcoming.  Our youth are listening to the virtues of self-employment and, maybe, just maybe, our levels of government will answer that call with new innovative policies and strategies that will hasten to move us forward in our socio-economic future.  Our immigrants, seniors and minorities are challenging us to embrace “ what we can become” with a  “spirit of entrepreneurship” that may be unmatched in our recent history.

And, my dear readers, at the very root of it all, this new avenue of change, is the element of entrepreneurial partnerships.  Partnerships that will bring us together to “ look at the world differently and think as one” I have every confidence in the people of “ the best place on earth” Let’s make this partnership the “ best that we can for our future and for our children “ Til next time…


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