How are cross-sector partnerships redefining the way diverse stakeholders achieve shared goals? What stands in the way of more effective cooperation between the public, private, and social sectors? How are thought leaders driving progress on some of the world’s post pressing issues through innovative collaboration?
These questions and others were explored along with specific examples of success stories in a recent webcast on the theme of the importance of partnership.
March 9-13 was Global Partnerships Week, a special initiative of the U.S. State Department that recognizes and celebrates the critical role that cross-sector partnerships play in promoting diplomacy and development around the world. At PYXERA Global, we believe tri-sector partnerships – those that leverage the strengths of the public, private, and social sectors – are powerful tools to address complex global challenges. We were excited to host a special webcast as part of Global Partnerships Week to explore the importance of cross-sector collaboration.
Our CEO, Deirdre White (@deirdrewhite), sat down with leaders from the public, private, and social sectors to discuss how their commitment to partnership makes their work – and their social impact – possible. Each of our guests shared their unique perspective on how the global engagement community can create, maintain, and capitalize on the power of this kind of partnership.
Kris Balderston (@KrisBalderston) is General Manager of FleishmanHillard’s Washington, D.C., office (@Fleishman), where he brings his decades of communications and government experience to the firm’s global public affairs practice. Deirdre asked Kris how the public, private, and social sectors have evolved over time to understand the importance of partnership in achieving shared goals.
“You know, I think having been in Washington for 30 years you learn pretty quickly that you have to really go out and get different people’s viewpoints. One of the things that we found is that the old ways of working in Washington, where you approach somebody on either side of Capitol Hill or Pennsylvania Avenue, doesn’t necessarily work as much anymore. When I was at the State Department we created a Global Partnership Initiative under Secretary Clinton, with the sole purpose of bringing together the new collaborators: the NGOs, the foundations, the governments, and the corporations. We learned a great deal doing that. It’s no longer who you know anymore, it’s more about how many people you know and how you bring them together and how you use their different assets to get things done around the world, because we’re finding that these problems are so complex and so big that you really need an integrated approach. No one sector can solve these problems.”
Sheldon Himelfarb (@shimelfarb) is the President and CEO of the PeaceTech Lab (@PeaceTechLab), and the founding director of the Centers of Innovation for Media and Technology at the United States Institute of Peace. Deirdre spoke to Sheldon about the idea that partners’ goals don’t always have to be identical, so long as they are at least parallel to one another in moving toward a shared vision. Sheldon shared insight on how to best navigate the sometimes-divergent motivations that drive partnerships.
“I think it’s really important to be transparent, and candid, and forthright about understanding the different incentives. That’s when you see good partnerships work – when you have attention to those incentives. If you’re not understanding how to reconcile them – those are the kinds of partnerships that are fraught.”
Karl Hofmann (@KarlHofmannPSI) is the CEO of PSI (@PSIimpact), a non-profit global health organization that operates in 60 countries worldwide, with 40 years of experience designing programs that measurably improve the health of people in the developing world. Deirdre asked Karl about the challenges that are inherent in brokering partnerships between the private and social sectors, as companies are necessarily mindful of profit and loss, while NGO partners typically have a different set of goals.
“I think there absolutely can be win-win-win: the triple-win partnerships since we’re talking about triple-sector partnerships. From the government perspective, which may be investing in health outcomes; from the corporate perspective, which may be looking at driving a bottom line; and from the NGO perspective, which may be looking at achieving our social impact. I don’t think it’s impossible to square this circle, I really don’t, but it is important for all the partners, all the parties to a partnership to treat the venture as though this is a serious business partnership, and that means investment. People need to be really willing to bring resources to the table. I think it also means iteration, it means people need to expect that things won’t always work. There needs to be a tolerance for failure – people need to be willing to fail quickly and to learn. Sometimes that’s difficult in an environment where public resources are involved. There’s sometimes low tolerance for failure. The private sector does this better than the public sector does. Ultimately, there needs to be an agreement on performance metrics. I don’t think it’s impossible to find ways in which corporate performance metrics and social sector performance metrics can overlap.”
It was a pleasure for us to convene these thought leaders and explore ways that tri-sector partnerships are vital to their work. Watch a recoding of the 30-minute webcast here, and join the discussion on Twitter using #PYXERAglobal25.
This webcast is part of a series that we are hosting at PYXERA Global throughout 2015 in celebration of our 25th anniversary. As the United Nations prepares to launch its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this fall, we are interested in exploring ways that public, private, and social sector entities are uniting to move the needle on work related to the SDGs from aspiration to achievement.
SDG #17 (as currently drafted by the UN) is to, “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” This goal – regarding partnerships for sustainable development – is, for PYXERA Global, a methodology at the core of our approach and is key to making progress toward the worthy aspirations of the other SDGs.
Please join us for more online discussions throughout the year as we take a look at other Sustainable Development Goals and the multifaceted ways the public, private, and social sectors are driving real progress toward them. Leave comments below about SDG #17 and your thoughts on how tri-sector partnership can advance our shared vision.
Please also take our quick survey on Purposeful Global Engagement. We value your input in crafting a set of principles that guide our collective work.