Contents ContentsPrev PrevNext Next

Letters to a Young Manager

Collaborating is Doing it Together, #52
LTYM > Strategy

Dear Adam,
I once said that in the near future, IT leaders will be known by who they partner with [1]. In a world where cost pressure are high, to be effective efficiency will only get you part way there.

Soon after the dot com bubble burst and technology companies were scrambling, as a new nonprofit CIO, I was faced with a stark reality: to shift IT from the back office to more strategic, mission moving" technology, we needed to work together across our sector. It was obvious that we were all trying to solve the same problem, how to bring technology out the last mile to the challenging areas in the world where our humanitarian and conservation programs were.

I wrote a paper, "Wiring the Global Village," that I shared with some colleagues at Cisco in the early spring of 2001 [2]. The paper had two hypotheses:
  1. We had to be able to solve the “last mile” problems faster, cheaper, better if we did it together.
  2. We would be a much stronger partner to the technology companies, on whom we depend, if we came as a group rather than the one-off, hat-in-hand organizations we had been.

This became the basis for NetHope, an organization of 50 nonprofit IT leaders whose primary aim is to labor together, which is the root meaning of collaboration.

[1] "NetHope Chairman's Report", Edward G. Happ, November 10, 2011, NetHope Summit in Kildare, Ireland.
[2] The"Wiring the Global Village" paper is on my Presentations and Articles web page, March 2001.


It's better doing it together and it's more compelling for your sponsors

Discussion Questions:

1) What are the advantages of collaborating? What are the disadvantages?
2) What is the one thing on which all collaborations depend? And what is the one thing, that if broken, destroys it? (hint: it's the same)
3) Why would technology companies want to work with an organization, once removed, like NetHope? What are at least three benefits of doing so?
4) What are at least three benefits for NetHope members collaborating?

For Further Reading:

1) See "Share and Do", Letter #451
2) See the NetHope Foundations chapter in "We are Better Together"

© Copyright 2005, 2023, E. G. Happ, All Rights Reserved.