Could it be that collaboration on a global scale may be finally catching on? Why would I say that when it would appear to have completely vanished from the halls of Congress, the U.N., and most every other established institution created by people to deal with issues affecting all of us? Why would I say that when gridlock, impasse and polarity of ideologies seem to be realities of the day?
Perhaps I’m addressing a path other than the conventional and established way – the path of social entrepreneurship. There are some really effective initiatives out there started by individuals wanting to make a difference – not governments or official agencies of large institutions.
If this new wave of collaboration is real why might it be emerging now? Possibly because people are experiencing a common threat and, as a result, are more willing to work together to mitigate the negative impact; possibly because people are realizing the limits of personal or even national initiatives when it comes to the global commons; or possibly due to some other widely accepted realization or understanding.
For sure many people will remain forever nationalistic. Many will also continue to rely on established institutions to deal with various crises, despite their ineffectiveness and impotence. But a few enterprising people are creating alternative solutions, setting up their own initiatives and social enterprises to resolve situations which established institutions are failing to address.
Collaboration 4.0: This is where social entrepreneurship and collaboration intersect. In the past, many social entrepreneurs have established their own non-profits to correct some social ill. But many establish their own organizations while ignoring the established organizations already attempting to do the same thing. This has created much duplication, competition in fund -raising and media coverage as well as sourcing volunteers, leading to inefficiencies and diluted effectiveness. One principle dynamic at play in these duplicative situations is that often the founders of these organizations enjoy the image of being “the founder” of something that has a noble cause – a cause with which they identify.
The collaboration that is most needed now is where self-actualized individuals who don’t need or want an identity outside of who they are can come together and join forces for a common effort without the need for acknowledgement, reward or recognition. They are doing the work because it fulfills them not because their images will be enhanced or their egos will get fluffed.
As some readers know, I have been forming the Global Collaborators’ Alliance over the past couple of years. The Alliance’s mission is to encourage voluntary collaborations amongst its membership, so individual Fellows make offers and requests of each other, furthering the work already in progress. Since each Fellow was invited to join the Alliance because he or she was already doing good work, the Alliance is not asking it members to take on new responsibility but merely to reach out to other members as they see a way to lend a hand or ask for help. The Alliance has been my first attempt to foster collaboration is an organizational context.
Last month, I mentioned FourYears.Go. Having recently jumped into this new initiative where teams of people are working together to get the word out to the hundreds of thousands of organizations out there working toward peace, ending slave trafficking, nuclear weapons control, a sustainable environment, social justice, clean water, women’s rights and all the other social causes so they can join the initiative as allies. I have been very impressed with the degree of volunteerism I’ve witnessed since early January amongst people with widespread reputation, large responsibilities and already-busy lives.
The refusal to collaborate has long been a pet peeve of mine. It may take a huge common threat for human beings to really start thinking collaboratively. Maybe this is the higher purpose these various crises we have surrounding us – a larger force nudging us toward a higher level of relationship with one another. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the human race was took a major evolutionary leap while kicking and screaming all the way.
[see John’s blog at Global Dialogue Center for more about collaboration and global transformation]