Partnerships and Strategic Associations

All organizations function because they know how to partner with and associate with other organizations to achieve a shared vision – a common goal or objective.  They recognize that there is something that could be done but if and only if they partner to a common end.   Indeed, often they can do exponentially more effective because they establish a partnership that leverages the strengths of one organization off the strengths of another – or, where one organization has strengths and capacities that fit the limitations of another.  And together they do something and accomplish something they both believe in. 

And yet, it is helpful to think of three kinds of such associations.  And I wonder if top quality organizations actually know how to do all three. 

  • Where your organization is the lead partner;
  • Where it is a peer-peer partnership with shared leadership;
  • Where your organization is the junior partner in the effort.

The person who made this observation to me then also noted this:   that the organization of which he was and is a part has a distinctive weakness in this regard.  They only know how to be the lead partner.  And in his mind, this was and is quite unfortunate because he was able to name several points at which that organization could have made a substantive difference but only and as a junior partner with a lead organization.  And why not, he wondered?   Why not lead – sure; but why not also learn how to work with and support the work of other organizations who are perhaps better located to provide the lead role.

Each of these forms of partnership and association require a different kind of capacity; and quality organizations learn how to do all three.

Institutional Intelligence is the capacity to work effectively within organizations.