In this new wave of technology, you can’t do it all yourself, you have to form alliances. Carlos Slim Helu
A lot of people talk about partners, but what they really mean is that they want more people to get on board with their program. Partnership is not about convincing someone or a group of people that they should help you with your mission. It is about helping another person or organization achieve their mission in alignment with your own. The win-wins that ensue are inevitable.
I recently met with the leader of Mending Kids International (MKI), an organization that focuses on providing surgeries for children outside of the U.S. who cannot get help on their own. Marchelle Sellers began leading MKI 18 months ago, and she graciously gave me and one of our Rooftop 519 board members some of her time.
When the three of us entered the conference room at MKI, Marchelle was quick to open by telling us how much they rely on and look for partners. Churches, hospitals, clinics, and more… people and organizations that MKI is able to serve. The mission of Cure International is a great example. Cure International builds hospitals oversees, in underserved communities. MKI helps to find kids and get them to CI. MKI even raises money to offset the costs associated with these surgeries.
Maverick organizations are dying. In the for-profit world, organizations that isolate themselves from “outside” forces are struggling to keep up with nimble companies who find ways to help other organization while serving their own. Case in point: Google vs. Microsoft. Microsoft is a very good maverick organization. Only the U.S. Justice Department seems to have any influence with Uncle Bill and all of those that have “gone blue”.
Google is taking a different approach, and in just a few years they have built an organization that has almost half the total assets of Microsoft ($40 billion vs. Bill’s empire of $86 billion). Where Microsoft has tried to create or buy-out everything they retail, Google partners with AOL/Time Warner, NASA, Sun Microsystems and more to create better products. They have bought a few subsidiaries along the way, but their best successes come with help from partners through shared experiences.
At MKI (which doesn’t have assets in the billions, but does have the potential to serve millions of hurting and dying children), I heard Marchelle list off at least 10 partners and a potential partner during our meeting. This doesn’t water down their brand or effectiveness. On the contrary; I believe MKI is building a recognizable and sustainable brand that will influence people all over the globe. I hope I can help them to reach those kids.