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The Imperative to Collaborate

Forming Productive Partnerships for Greater Scale of Results

· Business,Government

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.” - Alexander Graham Bell

When all is said and done, more people and more organizations are collaborating across boundaries because as the complexity of issues grows, people are beginning to understand that any one person or organization can only do so much. According to Margaret Mead, "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".

Building a critical mass for change always starts 'small', and oftentimes it remains small. Yet some change leaders prove to be masters at building larger networks of collaborators because they know that without this they will accomplish 'little'. I have found out that bringing about significant changes in larger systems requires building similar networks connecting many different entities of different types. This is difficult work as it takes great courage and even greater patience. It takes facing difficult problems many would like to assume either do not exist or are somebody else's job to fix.

Among the many reasons we do not look at problems systematically is that implementing the insights that result would force us out of our intellectual and institutional comfort zones. Unfortunately, we then also define away some of our greater opportunities to address core challenges. Fortunately, more people are discovering that collaboration is the human face of systems thinking.

Make no mistake about it, collaborating successfully requires more than good intentions. It also requires improving your "convening" skills so that you can get the right people together and have more open and productive meetings. It requires seeing reality through others' eyes so that you can better understand what might be holding them and you back from building more open and truly productive partnerships. It's hard work and demands the best of people, particularly when it involves people from different organizations. And it requires forging genuinely shared aspirations to which everyone is committed. Please refer to my blog post on David's Mighty 30. It is ultimately about relationships, and relationships do NOT thrive based on a rational calculus of costs and benefits but rather because of genuine caring and mutual vulnerability.

With the Usual Esteem & Appreciation,

Christian Aligba is the Founder/President of C.A.L.F Africa, a non-profit organization that's keenly developing and recognizing the next generation of African leaders - helping to create a new narrative, a new normal, a new beginning. Better Leaders, Better Societies across Africa. Learn more@

"No one of us is as smart as all of us" - Ken Blanchard

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