Understanding Your Relationship

It’s a common cliché that no two relationships are the same. This is true for both our business and our personal lives. Your partnership with one person can be more effective than with someone else. This blog breaks down some of the ways in which people work together.

I’m going to keep the jargon down to a minimum and use everyday illustrations to really spell it out. In my observation, there are 5 primary types of relationships:

1. The Fork and Knife

imageIn this kind of relationship, both Fork and Knife split the work and address what needs to be done together. They both sell tickets, or run the event, or paint the hallway or make the cupcakes. This relationship is about many hands making the work lighter or easier. Yes, one could do it by themselves (I have on occasion tackled a piece of meat with just a fork) but working together gets the job done better. One might have an advantage in a particular area i.e. access to a different kind of resource or audience. Overall what they want to achieve is the same thing.

2. The Ball and Bat


This is often the kind of relationship mentors have with their mentees or coaches have with clients. The Bat gives the Ball energy to go further than it could have under its own ability. In this type of partnership, the Bat and Ball don’t make the same journey. They are essentially independent until they come together.  It’s only when they come into contact, that the power happens – not independently, but through their exchange.

3. The Ball and Glove

imageThis is similar to the Ball and Bat partnership and is seen in cricket or baseball. The Glove helps the Ball connect to the right stumps or base. The Ball travels a vast distance but it’s the Glove that catches it, gets it to the right place and makes the journey worthwhile. This type of relationship is common for creative people who can have 101 ideas a minute and need more strategic partners to make a business out of the idea.

4. The Spade and Bucket

imageThe old school ‘bringing home the bacon’ analogy – when one of the team brings in a lump sum and another apportions it to what needs to be taken care of. The role of both parties is handling resources but in different capacities. I know a great fundraiser who can generate money for whichever course she chooses. Her partner takes those resources and manages the account that needs to be done. The Spade may seem more dynamic but the Bucket can handle more than the Spade could by itself. In fact, it can handle more than one Spade.

5. The Panties and Bra

imageSometimes the same method cannot be used to cover the essentials. This is the idea of the Panties and Bra relationship. They both cover different areas yet can be identified as a matching pair. They do not do the same job and are not interchangeable  They have fundamentally different ways of working. However without one or the other, things can be left exposed.

These are the five broad areas in understanding the kinds of partnerships you may have to negotiate. It is important that you know what is best for your situation.

  • Is my partner selling tickets within their demographic?
  • Am I a periodic resource for an infrequent sponsor?
  • Do I manage the intellectual offering of a highly creative person?

However you see yourself, once you get what makes your partnership work (or not), you’ll be able to improve on it to get the best out of it for both of you.

For more insights on working relationships, contact info@ideasgenius.com and follow us on Twitter @ideasgenius.