Sorting out the faff

By Caroline Jacobsson

How do you really feel about collaborating with other organisations?

It’s resource saving in terms of money, and getting lots of organisations delivering the same message certainly makes that message stronger. Not to mention you can benefit from the skills other organisations and their people bring to the table.

But it’s also a complete faff.

Come on, admit it.

For instance, it’s common that organisations that drive the environmental movement around the world team up to battle problems like deforestation, save certain species from extinction, or protect land from being used for fuel production instead of food production. But all too often, actually getting things done takes second place to time consuming negotiations that end in toothless compromises.

At least, that’s been my experience from working in global civil society for many years.

I want to be clear – there’s nothing wrong with seeking support in others that share commitment to the same cause; others that also want to solve the same problem and make a difference. But that collaborative effort has to be aligned to a strategy (that all parties agree to) in order to be effective.

Often people confuse having joint goals as having a joint strategy. But simply having an alignment of goals is never enough.

At Sword & Stone we don’t believe in faffing. We believe the first step is always the development of solid foundational strategy that the organisation and each of its partners can collaborate on.

What is the problem we are trying to all solve? And how do we succeed by working together?

The kinds of strategies that answer these basic questions are not only about producing efficiency, but providing your powerful collective with an idea of howyou’re going to get to where you all want to go.

So next time your organisation considers a collaboration, make sure your strategy is aligned. Not just your goals.

And hey, if you’re an NGO and you feel like you need a hand, an initial conversation with us about your challenges, is always free.

We’ve also put together a booklet about how organisations can use creative strategies to realise their untapped potential which you can request here.

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