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Three Ways to Build Organizational Collaborations that Work

sector - aid and development strategy and design Jan 05, 2024

The power of Ecosystem Innovation lies in its ability to 'assemble' people, organizations, resources, and technology into systems that do big complex things.  There is a lot of strategic thinking that goes into imagining what kinds of 'Lego' blocks need to be put together to do a hard job, but that isn't then end of the challenge.  

Creating a working collaboration among multiple organizations doesn't just happen.  In this paper, Hannah Reichardt and work to distill the key elements that must be put in place to make collaborations between organizations work in practice.  

What we conclude is that a collaboration between organizations is itself an ecosystem, which like all ecosystems must have all the parts it needs to perform a complex task.  Those functions end up being goal setting, aligning on approach, establishing trust, integrating activities, and coordinating operations.   

It's a lot to make work, which is why so many collaborations that seem good as a concept, nonetheless stumble.  There are three dominant strategies for bringing together all of these pieces, ranging from tight control by a single organization, to a loose network where no one organization is truly 'in charge'.   

We've found this paper to be one of the most useful we've developed.  It keeps coming up as a useful framework for thinking about the challenge of collaboration building, in aid (for which it was originally written for Save The Children UK) and in other commercial, community, and government contexts.

Frameworks for Approaching Collaboration within the Humanitarian Sector



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