The answer is complicated, but it was time, and I knew I had to make a drastic change in my life. I expound on the rationale and steps leading up to this sudden move in my book, ChangeSeekers.
Bottom line? I wasn’t happy. I was impatient to do more. And I wanted to test a theory that had marinated in my mind for years, having worked inside government, as a lobbyist, and as a program director at an international nonprofit always liaising with private sector leaders.
The theory was that for the private sector in particular, but also reaching into the nonprofit and public sectors as well, partnership and collaboration were critical to solving some of our biggest planetary challenges, and yet many organizations were without guidance on how to partner effectively while maintaining allegiance to their internal goal setting processes. Addressing long-standing issues like climate change, access to clean water, poverty and gender equity would not be feasible by one organization alone, regardless of the size of their pocketbook. Concerted, mutual engagement around the notion of comparative advantage was paramount.
On January 15, 2014 I launched Connective Impact to test this premise. Having never been an entrepreneur, and still questioning whether I was doing the right thing, many around me thought I was being rash. Many of my best decisions are, though, to be honest. The move felt right in my gut, though. What was also right? My intuition that partnerships needed more attention.
A process I developed during that tumultuous time between quitting my job and launching Connective Impact, a 6-step simplified method for engaging in effective collaboration, is still formidable and one we use with our clients to this day. In using this process I’ve learned so much, and am grateful that my crazy idea has thus far stuck.
Over the last five years I have experienced too many epiphanies to count about the way organizations work in silos, and how much more effective they can be when they partner. I have learned that what makes the difference for the solutions we so need to improve our global society is winning hearts, then minds – empathy -- not sympathy. I have learned that with all the sadness and negativity there’s as much, if not more, goodness and positivity. It is a blessing to be able to focus on the good, and promote the better. I never for one day take it for granted. These last five years have changed my life in ways I can not even begin to measure, and I hope the next five and five after that, and five after that give back at levels that far exceed what I’ve been able to take in.
As I mark the 5th anniversary of Connective Impact’s launch, I’m sharing what I’ve learned and what I foresee as we begin a new year and double down on doing what’s right for our planet and its people.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED:
AS FOR THE FUTURE:
Below: Some of our 5-year accomplishments
Wondering what we see in store for 2019? Join our Purposeful Profits Through Partnerships webinar on January 22nd and find out!
Joanne Sonenshine is Founder + CEO of Connective Impact, an advisory firm helping organizations address social, environmental and economic development opportunities through partnership. She is author of Purposeful Profits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact, and ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact.