Resource Development Associates

Being a Thought Partner

by Patricia Marrone Bennett, PhD

The commitment to address entrenched systemic problems forces us to look beyond what we have already learned. The complexity of our world requires that we seek out and continuously learn from the volume of research and experiential knowledge that exists. No one person, organization or information source is likely to offer up all that is required to adequately develop comprehensive solutions necessary for success. That is why, at RDA, we believe in showing up as thought partners with our clients and with each other.

What is a thought partner? A thought partner is someone who can listen openly, share ideas honestly, and is willing to challenge assumptions. Thought partnership works best when everyone agrees to participate without defining absolute rights and wrongs. In this way, thought partnership creates a level playing field of interpersonal and power dynamics that can benefit all parties. Additionally, we may work with like-minded people who have similar talents, values, and experiences to us, and thought partnering with them can be very affirming. However, at times it is best to seek out thought partners who have different world views because they are likely to help reveal blind spots within our own perspectives.

So, ask yourself – Are you a good thought partner? Do you lead with curiosity and ask questions? Are you open to listening to people who may see things differently? Do you provide honest and constructive input and feedback? Are you learning while you participate in the conversation? As society continues to grow in complexity, the demand for innovative and collaborative solutions to systemic issues will also grow. We encourage you to be an intentional and generous thought partner for the sake of bettering our communities.

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