How can Alliances for sustainable development best be enabled to optimise their potential? In other words, what form of organising principles do Alliances need that will provide an appropriate level of structured support as well as enthusiastic and energetic drive to achieve results?

Most of those involved in Alliances are busy people with many other calls on their time. Often their Alliance commitment is a very small part of a far larger portfolio and sometimes they have to justify even the relatively small amounts of time they spend on Alliance business to their line managers who are more concerned with other organisational priorities. This means that, despite genuine enthusiasm from those representing member organisations at the Alliance table, it tends to fall to the Alliance’s central coordinator / administrative hub to follow through and deliver on agreed actions.

We can start by asking the following core questions:

  • What forms / structures lend themselves best to an Alliance model?
  • What is ‘leadership’ in an Alliance model?
  • Who shapes, steers and assesses the Alliance’s work?
  • How can engagement of Alliance members be deepened when everyone is ‘time-poor’?
  • How are accountability processes established that still leave space a rapid response to a changing context?
  • How do members of an Alliance reach alignment over key issues such as: What is an acceptable level of risk? What is a reasonable ‘return on investment’?
  • What may be required from those involved in terms of re-thinking existing mental models and mind-sets to create the kinds of arrangements that will ensure such Alliances work optimally?

If these or other questions are relevant to your collaborative work, we welcome you to this new initiative and encourage you to join our enquiry into this important topic.

You might like to start by reading this initial paper on the subject:

See: Tennyson, R., Animating Alliances: What does it take to make these forms of multi-stakeholder collaboration efficient, effective and transformational?