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Mechanisms for Shared Learning

Many tools and mechanisms exist to help your partnership maximize its ability to share information and move forward together. These range from the tried-and-true strategies (face-to-face time over a cup of coffee) to the high-tech (blogs and wikis). Just as you were careful to choose the types of products and services created by your partnership, you will want to choose your shared learning tools carefully. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • If you need a place to put information in a clean, marketable, organized and controlled way, develop a simple website
  • If you need your partners to make changes to documents, add their ideas with some freedom, but still in a somewhat organized fashion, try a wiki or related on-line tool
  • If your partners want to be given the critical information without having to work for it, use the traditional e-newsletter or mailing list (Google and Yahoo both offer free mailing list services.)

The employers in your partnership are your industry experts, but sometimes there is value to bringing in additional perspectives. Holding an industry meeting that targets existing and potentially new public and private members can be a way to gain a more solid understanding of the industry's needs, to find fresh ideas, and to inject some energy into the partnership. Bring in outside industry experts, but choose them wisely so as to not overwhelm. Bring in other experts too. For example, your initiative may benefit from learning about the services and knowledge of non-profits in your community. Build an agenda that includes them.

Finally, did you know there's a national association for sector partnerships like yours? The National Network of Sector Partnerships can provide valuable networking and learning opportunities with other sector initiatives around the country.