Clearly, Obama appreciates the need for collaboration between and among nations, “it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 -- more than at any point in human history -- the interests of nations and peoples are shared…and now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.” Make no mistake about it; Obama is spot on in recognizing that these are complex challenges requiring complex solutions. Solutions rooted in global collaboration. Despite the obvious problems to be dealt with in getting each national government to understand that it is in its individual interests to help others be successful, reaching such commonality is not without precedent.
Last night at an ASAP New England Chapter event, Brian Clark of Progress Software opened his presentation on “Coopetition” and Strategic Alliances with a famous picture of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. He asked what the three had in common. Yes, they had a common enemy, but Brian also pointed out that they had in common their differences – different views of their role in the world, different ideologies, etc.
While finding commonality in the differences among nations is absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient. Achieving Obama’s four pillars requires cross-sector collaboration as well. That is, in addition to governments, these challenges require collaboration with business, academia, and NGO sectors of the global economy. Bridging these sectors increases the complexity of the solution.
Fortunately, we’re not starting with a clean sheet of paper. There are several models to study, including the William J. Clinton Foundation http://www.clintonfoundation.com, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation http://www.gatesfoundation.org, and The Alliance for Climate Protection http://www.climateprotect.org, to name a few. Although each is different and don’t encompass all of the stakeholders Obama’s pillars would embrace, they nevertheless provide examples to learn what works and what doesn’t in pursuit of cross-sector global collaboration.
Barack Obama, the Global Collaborator-in-Chief, has challenged the United Nations General Assembly – and by extension every sector of society – to open a new era of partnership and collaboration to build his four pillars. The understanding developed by the alliance management profession of how to succeed in collaborative work is a tremendous asset to be put to use in developing the complex solutions required.