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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Working With Partners

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Go On

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The sooner something is addressed and people are willing to solve it, the more that can be done to solve it.

No one runs or controls a partnership--everyone works together. Don't insist on providing the technical knowledge--the partnership identifies and agrees upon areas where Reclamation can provide expertise or resources. Working in partnerships isn't always easy, but establishing operating parameters or agreements can make things run a bit more smoothly.

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navigate in the page--Forming Partnerships

In partnerships, Reclamation's role changes from a leader and all-knowing expert to an advisor, facilitator , and catalyst to help determine what the needs are and what Reclamation can offer to help address those needs.

People will become involved and form partnerships to:

Respond to a proposed change
This change might threaten enough common values*definition that people will band together to address it. Many times, this threat is seen as more serious than any other disagreements people might have.

Address common goals, interests, or beliefs*definition

These partnerships help address serious problems or a complex series of interrelated problems before options become too narrow.
Leverage power
Pooling resources can increase options . For example, one person may only have enough capital to invest in one venture, but a group may invest in many ventures.

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navigate in the page--Working In Partnerships

If you feeel comfortable with the partnership, you probably don't have enough partners.

At first, nobody has all the answers--nobody even knows what the problems are! Yet we all believe we know exactly what the problem and solution are. Be willing to set aside your preconceived notions and work together to assess resources , identify and define needs and goals , and develop and implement solutions.

Partners can help Reclamation workgroup supervisors and team members understand how the partership is working, what they have to offer, and what Reclamation can offer to more effectively address problems.

Partnering can't succeed unless each partner's top management fully supports the effort. Presentations to top management for partnership approvals might include:

  • The specific problem or project
  • Its current status
  • Goals and objectives of partnering
  • Anticipated benefits vs. risks
  • Costs associated with partnering
  • Schedules
  • Request for decision

Obtain this decision from top management before agreeing to work in a partnership.

Controversy surrounds working together--particularly at first. People will be suspicious (Why are they collaborating? What are their agendas?). Combinations that mix the power to solve problems and address needs, issues, and concerns are suspect because some might be left out of the process or their voices might be ignored.

Thus, you must investigate and publish the motives and purpose for forming the partnership. Show that:

  • It is in everyone's best interest'
  • The process is fair and open
  • You all are searching for a responsible solution to a significant problem.

Form and agree on ground rules to:

  • Establish a procedure to hear and evaluate every opinion
  • Make sure everyone can choose how to participate
  • Agree on times for involvement (e.g., define phases of the effort and agree that groups can leave or join the partnership only at the beginning of each phase)
  • Develop ways to work together
  • Determine when you will all review the guidelines and how you will agree to change them
  • Get a broad statement of why you are doing what you are doing
  • Communicate within the partnership to find out who has data or who knows where to get data to reduce costs and needless repetition

Start an action plan to document agreements (See example) .

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navigate in the page--Obtaining Commitment

Keep Reclamation's role in mind throughout this process.

Steps to working in a partnership:

After you have identified and involved potential partners and established ground rules:

Establish a core team
Four to ten members, who represent agencies or organizations can work effectively to provide the most resources to the goal and keep the process on track.
Determine what will be addressed
Look at the roles of all the partners and determine the boundaries of the actions.
Determine purpose and goals
Establish a central goal. This will become refined and more specific as data, options, and participants increase throughout the process.
Identify mutual benefits .
Successful partnerships provide benefits for all partners (otherwise, why bother?). However, members may not benefit equally or in the same way. For example, if the goal is increased stream flows, benefits may look like:



The White Owl Environmental Aid

Wetland and riparian habitat increases

Crystal River Conservation District

Farming practices and canal improvements


Improved facility operation


Determine decision points

Early on, agree who will make the decision , how it will be made, and what input will be needed for that decision. This is the key to minimizing conflict and building support--actually getting something done.
Further develop the action plan
Create a strategy to accomplish the goals. Review and update often.
Address and solve the problem
Go through the decision process steps to find and implement a solution.
If a partnership is formed to address a particular problem, then this celebration may mark the official end. Document, publicize, and distribute the accomplishments. Consider how facets of the partnership can re-form to address new problems.

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navigate in the page--Go On

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour Technological vs. Social <----->Politics

The group is stronger than the sum of the participants.

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previousFind Partnerships

NextSample Partnership Agreement

Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.