Making Partnership Work for You

Consider a tale of two partnerships. Both set out to tackle a big problem. Both unite companies big and small; national and local governments; and leaders from across civil society. Both have clearly written strategies, well-organized governance documents, and detailed metrics. One falters within a year of founding. The other goes on to lead a transformational conversation over decades. Why the difference?

Most multi-sector collaborations excel at vision and fail in execution. They suffer from a disconnect when the original altruistic vision meets the hard facts of the daily grind. A gap opens up between collective strategy formulation and collective strategy execution. Decades of research and experience have demonstrated that these initiatives need a component dedicated to collective strategy execution: a central operations center to maintain alignment, drive impact, and create continuous learning throughout the life of a collaboration.

A few decades ago, authors and business strategy researchers Robert Kaplan and David Norton recognized a strategy/execution gap in large companies. Similar to our observations about multi-sector partnerships, they observed how often companies excelled at articulating strategy but then failed in execution. They proposed a “Strategy Management Office” capable of coordinating execution and closing the gap.

We suggest adapting the SMO concept and creating a “Partnership Operations Center” (POC) to coordinate and close the strategy/execution gaps for multi-sector partnerships.

In our upcoming blog series, we’ll explore several of these major gaps and illustrate how a POC might address each one. Check back in to learn how the POC process and infrastructure will enable your partnership to bridge from altruistic vision to highly functional collaborative effort.

 

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