Why this manifesto?
While the world is transforming on a daily basis, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and businesses across the globe are increasingly highlighting the importance of building resilient practices that involve purpose, positive social impact and regeneration. At its core, this tendency requires a lot of collaboration between unlikely allies and to support that, our team started a journey of collecting, reviewing, learning and assessing existing ways of collaboration between these the civil society and the private sectors. In simple words: our team was looking for answers that will demystify and clarify how, when or if collaboration makes sense. In the course of this research, we interviewed and collected inputs from 24 consultations, individually and in small group discussions. Most of the respondents (83%) come from Central and Eastern Europe, while the rest come from the Larger World*. We also relied on existing data collected from events and learning experiences in working with social entrepreneurs, startups and activists in those territories. Based on the findings (and wisdom) of the many people and sources we used, we designed a Collaboration Manifesto for the Future that can serve leaders in all sectors towards new ways and practices for partnership building and collaboration. You can use this manifesto as a set of guidelines, advice, or practical tips that help you demystify collaboration. We suggest that you use this manifesto before a collaboration has started, but in many ways, it makes sense to apply it even to your existing collaborations. We hope that this Manifesto will help provoke conversation and contribution to a debate that must continue to evolve as we face today’s complex challenges and seek to unite the divisions in our society.
We acknowledge that collaboration is a journey. It takes time and patience. Bringing together two or more schools of thought, who are unwilling to compromise, or who see their processes as the only effective processes is not going to feel like a comfortable journey.
We acknowledge that collaboration is about change. We need to step into collaboration or partnerships being willing to change ourselves, not trying to change others. This makes it possible to work with people even if you don’t agree with them and are never going to agree with them.
We acknowlrdge that we need to shift the underlying paradigm of business and CSOs to adopt a just and regenerative mindset, embedding this into a new way of collaboration.
Entering a process of collaboration with a predetermined solution or point of arrival isn’t collaboration, it’s “consultation”, and that isn’t a process that works for partnerships.
The most powerful way to shift a system is to change what it is for, the philosophy underpinning it and therefore what its purpose is.
The process of collaboration wouldn’t be collaboration if it wasn’t uncomfortable. It often involves compromise, a reconsideration of past positions, and it requires open mindedness from all parties.
In collaboration we seek healthy relationships and system innovation, not our personal mission accomplished.
We plan collaborations and partnerships so we can adapt, and not stay the course.
9. We acknowledge that fast-moving collaborations are more likely to innovate and test innovations. But innovation is not the only purpose of collaboration. Collaboration can also be slow-moving, at a larger scale, and offer significant stability and institutional memory. (R)evolutionary innovations are likely to occur in smaller systems that can respond to opportunity and change, while ecosystems and planetary health provide a stability that makes such innovation (and experimentation) at the smaller scale possible.
10. We are committed to open up our boundaries of the systems and values we serve, and allow in different players.
11. We are committed to question and change the relational architecture so that people, organizations and businesses can work together in new configurations.
12. We recognie that in order to see the resource flows and establish new ways of systemic collaboration, businesses and CSOs need spaces for collaboration where we can understand that the stresses we share are linked and the basis for a potential solution lies within our capacities.
13. We commit to remake the purpose, power and resources of a partnership, to be able to tackle a joint mission.
14. We commit to enhance learning across the system, and all partners for a collective breakthrough to better outcomes.
15. We comit to look to collaborate locally and regionally but both top-down and bottom-up.
16. We commit to turn vicious negative cycles into positive ones in order to create better outcomes. By inviting others to collaboratre with us, we will explore how to reconcile and heal conflicted relationships that can turn into virtuous cycles of giving and receiving, praise and commitment, growth and learning.
* Larger World refers to territories that belong to the so-called “Global South” i.e regions within Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania