How to Share Power

Posted 05.10.2010

Uk-election1 The most interesting political story this week is the negotiation among David Cameron of the U.K.'s Conservative Party and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats to reach a power sharing agreement to establish a coalition government following last week's elections in the U.K.  Of course, the current prime minister, Gordon Brown is in the mix as well but, according to the Financial Times, it seems the smart money is on Cameron and Clegg working out a deal.

Leaders everywhere should be paying attention to this case study in the making because, in a matrixed world, power sharing among leaders is more and more common. It's a good idea to learn how to do it. Effective power sharing starts with establishing some clear agreements. It seems that's what Cameron and Clegg are doing now. I don't have any idea what process they're using for doing that, but here's a simple framework for establishing clear up front agreements when you need to share power with one or more leaders.

The framework is called GRPI and it was developed at GE in the heyday of the Change Acceleration Process that was used in the early days of the Jack Welch era. GRPI stands for Goals, Roles and Responsibilities, Plans and Processes and Interpersonal Norms. Imagining the discussions that are going on between Cameron and Clegg, here are some questions inspired by the GRPI model that they might be working through:

Goals:  What goals do we have in common? What individual goals do we have that need to be accommodated to get a deal? What goals do you have that I can't live with? What work arounds might we come up with?

Roles and Responsibilities:  What's the role that we each play? Do we have the same understanding of those roles? What's in scope and out of scope in terms of our individual responsibilities?

Plans and Processes:  What's the timeline for addressing the top priorities? How will we coordinate our work? What are our expectations and processes for keeping each other informed? How will decisions get made? Who gets to make them? Who needs to be involved?

Interpersonal Norms:
  What sort of ground rules do we need in place to build trust with each other? What sort of routines do we want to put in place to encourage a productive working relationship? What's our agreed upon process for calling each other out when we feel like the norms are being violated or ignored?

What do you think? If you were advising Cameron or Clegg what else would you encourage them to pay attention to as they work out a power sharing agreement? What's been your own experience with power sharing? Success or failure? What made it so?