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Collaboration key to solving social issues

March 28, 2019

Hosted by SVP member Cardno, the ‘Advancing shared value through partnerships’ Insight event on Wednesday 27 March provided a forum for a robust discussion on cross-sector partnerships. It is clear that cross-sector collaboration is essential to solving the social and environmental issues we face today. Below are our five key takeaways from the night.

1. Partnerships are hard-wired into shared value

Each player in a cross-sector partnership brings critical attributes to the project and that is what enables the delivery of social impact and commercial sustainability. Sally Truong, Director of the Private Sector Development Section at The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), says that partnerships have enabled DFAT to extend the reach of their shared value program, Business Partnerships Platform. For DFAT, engaging the private sector is at the cornerstone of Australia’s modernised aid program.

2. Transparent goals and objectives are key

Each panellist agreed strongly that during the establishment of a partnership, the true goals and objectives of each party need to be laid out on the table. Even if the goals differ strikingly, it is important that each party understands the driving force of the other. Hidden agendas will always be discovered and will ultimately hinder the success of the partnership.

3. An openness and willingness to work with each other is paramount

Colin Adams, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Cardno International Development, said when approaching a partnership, you need to be flexible and adaptable. You need to be one team and learn to speak the same language. According to Anthea Smits, CEO of The Difference Incubator, Collaborating with the Enemy by Adam Kahane is essential reading for overcoming challenges and differences in a collaborative partnership.

4. Lean in

Cross-sector collaboration brings together the best of government, not-for-profits and business to solve the issues we face today. Peter McNamara, CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, said you need to lean into the partnership and also let others lean into you. If the opportunity for a cross-sector partnership arises, Peter says, ‘don’t wait, go for it.’

5. Take ownership of the problem

Anthea Smits said that when problems arise in a partnership you should constantly ask, ‘How am I complicit in the problem?’ You cannot solve the problem unless you own it.

Insight is a networking series that brings together like-minded professionals with a common interest for striving for business at its best through creating shared value.

For SVP members wanting to host an Insight event or if you are interested in becoming a member please contact