Australia after the resounding No vote to the Voice feels a lot like the UK after the Brexit vote. Some were shocked, others celebrated, whilst the majority had a feeling of trepidation. What did we just do and how does that change our future?
At the heart of Stellar Partnerships are three key elements: perspective, problem solving and potential. We believe in the power of partnerships to create change that no-one can achieve alone. There are a million ways to say No, as we’ve discovered in recent months. It takes a leap of faith and a little courage to say Yes, especially when the outcome is less clear or likely to take some time to see real results.
Here’s how to embrace perspective, problem solving and potential in your partnerships journey.
A friend told me he was voting No to the Voice and I was curious to know why. He is of Indian background from Malaysia and has lived in Australia for a couple of decades. He was disadvantaged by the quotas imposed by the Malaysian government to favour indigenous Malays in education and employment. Although it is a very different proposition in Australia, he was strongly opposed to anything he saw as prioritising one group over another. I was never going to change his mind, so we respectfully disagreed. Partnerships succeed when different groups are willing to learn the perspective of others. We don’t have to agree on everything, but simply develop understanding and seek solutions together. Charities don’t have to convert corporates to their cause to develop lasting partnerships. It’s enough to learn to speak their language and you’ll unlock new opportunities to create value for both of you.
Partnerships succeed when there’s a big urgent problem to be solved. We saw extraordinary efforts during COVID when corporates lent their talents and expertise to addressing community need. Four Pillars Gin adapted their gin stills to make desperately needed hand sanitiser and Dyson turned their engineering genius to making ventilators. Leveraging the core strengths of their businesses yielded some incredible innovation and better results for the community. When organisations work together they need to identify the core problem they need to solve and invite others to collaborate. No-one has ready-made solutions to society’s biggest challenges, even if you’re a monster sized charity. Money alone won’t do it either. Bill Gates has committed over $1billion to eradicate polio and he’s still going. A willingness to explore joint solutions will create the breakthroughs you need.
When you’re working in an organisation for a while it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. You’re so wrapped up in your budget forecasts, existing operations or brand identity that new opportunities are hard to spot. When Glaxosmithkline developed a way to turn chlorhexidine, the main ingredient in Listerine, into a gel, the management were underwhelmed. Who would buy that? When the maternal and child health specialist at Save the Children heard about it, it was a revelation. You’ve developed an antiseptic that is stable, transportable and doesn’t need refrigeration? I can use that to prevent sepsis when a mother is giving birth in a remote village hut. The product now had a market and the partnership went on to save millions of children’s lives. Potential is unlocked when you invite others to bring their skills, innovation and expertise, not just their cash. Then you can be more ambitious about the impact you can both achieve.
The path for indigenous recognition after the No vote is uncertain. But we can take heart that the issues and challenges facing Aboriginal people have been front and centre of public discourse for many months. A willingness to understand the perspective of different groups, solve problems together and unleash the potential of working together will surely be the pathway to a better society for everyone.