Partnership Can Heal Our Division

handshakeWhile considering the plight of our country and the decorum of the current election, it is easy to be discouraged and to wonder how we will ever come together as a society. The reaction by some to the ever-increasing diversity and needs of our population leads to resentment and resistance and we wind up paralyzed at best, fighting among ourselves at worst. Meanwhile, many struggle to have basic needs met while public services diminish and infrastructure breaks down. It can all be quite depressing.

Yet there is an answer and it is as fundamental as life itself – we must work together, joining in true partnership to solve social challenges to ensure that we continue to evolve as a society. We must work together, as an extension of whatever social group to which we belong, and do what government cannot always accomplish, especially in these historically fractured times.

Working in partnership is the solution. Partnership is the great equalizer. When people and organizations come together to solve challenges and take a unified public stand to show the importance of a particular issue, others pay attention. If a partnership actually results in solutions that can be successfully applied to fix a problem, others pay attention. If media coverage and social media can extend the partnership impact and communicate broadly about the solution and the spirit with which the challenge was collaboratively addressed, many others will pay attention – and more will act.

workplace-group-bartramSince our work involves the creation of partnerships that address important social needs, we clearly have a vested interest in this position. We believe so strongly in the power of partnership that we see models developed through our current and past work as one primary way that our society will move forward, in spite of the paralysis inflicted by political battles. Community organizations, corporations, entrepreneurs, local businesses, media outlets and government agencies can come together to address significant needs with each party contributing to create exponentially greater impact for communities served. These community ecosystems drive social innovation, engagement and action that, in the end, serve to drive more change than incremental institutional activity driven by the bureaucracy.

There are many models for this activity as each combination of partners generates a different type of outcome. If built on the foundation of a shared mission and social cause, complementary partner entities can each bring their own capabilities and resources to address the stated need then derive the value that drives organizational involvement. Each party must bring clear value to the table and each must be able to address their fundamental needs, however commercial, so long as the unifying mission remains the highest priority with core partnership activities. Each partner needs to take care of themselves while looking out for their partners so that all win and all are further encouraged to “keep up the good work”.

In a new series of posts, we will share examples of effective partnerships that have served society, highlighting specific actions that address community needs while shining a light on the invaluable contributions of organizations and individuals that lead the way. While we will no doubt continue to be frustrated and flummoxed by elections and by political institutions, we can take matters into our own hands by partnering with others who share a common interest and who are willing to do the work needed to advance the true needs of this great society. Our service and connection to others will diminish the impact of political noise and remind us all of what is really important and how much better it is to simply work together to improve our communities and our collective existence.

Kevin Bartram