What We Do

All really tough problems exist “in the commons” where no one person, organization, or sector has clear ownership or mandate. Attempts to solve these problems often fail because leaders across the public, private, and civil sectors don’t understand each other’s language, motivations, or needs and end up pointing fingers instead of crafting solutions. They need to get on the same page and on the same side of the table.

CollaborateUp helps rapidly develop and deploy social innovations that can scale using our proven Formula. Our Formula provides a step-by-step approach for quickly determining if a problem needs multi-sector collaboration, find common cause across multiple organizations when tackling really complex, multi-factorial problems, and create value for all the parties and society.


Better Collaboration Within Your Organization

Have big issues that require collaboration across your organization?  We work with you to apply the CollaborateUp Formula to bring stakeholders together around shared issues like sustainability, culture, and innovation. Whether it be a half day workshop for senior management, a high level training for your entire department, or an ongoing project for a specific issue – we work with you to tackle your big challenges.

Better Collaboration With Multiple Organizations

Ready to tackle issues that need multiple companies, NGOs, and governments to succeed? We work with you at every step in the process, providing structure and process to efforts that can often feel disjointed and messy. The CollaborateUp Formula provides a step-by-step approach that ensures true co-creation and partnership while speeding up and reducing the cost of collaboration.

To request a training, please contact us.

Co-Creation and Multi-Stakeholder Engagement

The greater the level of change needed, the greater the need to involve more people. Creating solutions together increases the likelihood of adoption and success. That’s why we created and field-tested our tools and methods for co-creating approaches to tackling the world’s most difficult problems from the bottom-up: with the people and organizations impacted most.


Collective Impact and Partnership Facilitation

For more than 15 years, our team has created, scaled, and managed collective impact[3] programs with Fortune500 companies, community- and faith-based organizations, international NGOs, and governments at all levels creating and sustaining “shared value”[4] — where the strategy and mission of multiple stakeholders intersect in solving tough social and environmental problems.


Lean Startup for Social Innovation

Incrementally testing any proposed change and getting live feedback from the people it’s supposed to benefit dramatically improves the probability of success. Our Lean Startup[1] and Agile Methods[2] use rapid experimentation and learning cycles, prototyping to quickly test, iterate, and learn – quickly delivering functional improvements instead of comprehensive but delayed programs – accelerating time-to-impact.


Social Impact Research

The human capacity for large-scale cooperative action sets us apart as a species and has driven most of human progress. It sent us to the Moon, created the green revolution, and materially reduced human suffering. But sometimes those very same social structures can undermine progress. Our strengths become our weaknesses — from our tendency to turn hierarchy into inequity, to our proclivity to share shocking misinformation, our social nature can unite or divide us. Our research looks at underlying causes and how to overcome them.


Design and Systems Thinking

Involving users in program design dramatically increases the probability of addressing their needs.[5] As practitioners of human centered design (HCD), systems thinking, and design thinking (DT), we integrate the principles and practices of collaboration, empathy, and experimentation into our work, helping local partners and global organizations apply these skills to the world’s most wicked problems.

[1] Eric Reiss first coined this term in his book of the same name and it refers to a set of methods for rapidly investigating, experimenting, testing, and iterating approaches, products, and services.

[2] Adapted from Ken Collier’s work, the idea behind agile development started in software development where fundamental goals are documented but instead of trying to design every necessary function and line of code in advance, the development cycle was split into multiple short “sprints” or iterations, where first a basic version is developed, then over time, and in reaction to “conditions on the ground,” the model can be tweaked and altered to fit the needs that emerge as each iteration is tested. This has since been adapted for addressing issues in international development.

[3] Usually attributed to Harvard professor Mark Kramer, Collective Impact refers to the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration.

[4] Harvard professor Michael Porter first defined shared value as the interdependency of a company’s competitiveness and the health of the environment and the society in which it operates. Recognizing and capitalizing on these connections between societal and economic progress has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth and to redefine capitalism.

[5] Our team’s experience is supported by recent applications of HCD to development challenges in India and Peru, as reported by the Harvard Business Review and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.