Aug 11 2016 A win-win situation: Considering the importance of awards that celebrate cross-sector successes
While cross-sector collaboration is not a new phenomenon, practitioners, researchers, and support organizations are still working to determine the conditions, processes, structures, and interactions that result in successful partnerships — and even simply what defines success or failure.
With this in mind, at The Intersector Project, we’ve been considering how awards that honor cross-sector work also have the potential to advance the practice. We recently participated in a viewcast for Route Fifty about the publication’s Navigator Awards, which celebrate local and state government officials who have implemented great ideas that improve public-sector services and the communities they serve. Our Executive Director Neil Britto served as a panelist in the discussion of the awards, as one of the categories is “Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners”.
Practitioners, researchers, and support organizations are still working to determine the conditions, processes, structures, and interactions that result in successful partnerships — and even simply what defines success or failure.
Awards that recognize cross-sector projects or individuals who excel at leading partnerships can be helpful for drawing attention to collaboration as a process that can help solve challenging problems. Awards can result in more press coverage of partnerships, more interest from funders, and other key benefits.
Awards also have the potential to enable benchmarking of collaborative processes. It’s often difficult for practitioners to compare the performance of their collaboration, and the elements that contributed to its ultimate success or failure, with other collaborations. Awards, depending on the data collected by the award giver, have the potential to do just this, by highlighting which specific process design choices (e.g. meeting structures, funding mechanisms, management practices) led to a collaboration being worthy of an award.
It’s important to consider what happens after an award is given to a successful partnership. If the answer is nothing, then the concept of using awards as part of a learning process isn’t fully realized. Award candidates and winners should be considered for further, deeper research on what contributes to collaborative success. And since context is key in partnerships, it’s important for awards to be organized by reasonable comparisons — national versus local, for example — in order to be more meaningful for practitioners and funders wishing to learn from award winners.
It’s important to consider what happens after an award is given to a successful partnership. If the answer is nothing, then the concept of using awards as part of a learning process isn’t fully realized.
And ideally we’ll reach a place as a field where more of these awards are hosted and organized by organizations that don’t exclusively work in the field of cross-sector collaboration, to make the recognition less insular and broaden awareness on the topic.
Here are some excellent awards programs we’re aware of:
- P3 Impact Award, from Concordia, the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business
- Navigator Awards, from Route Fifty
- National Public-Private Partnership Awards, from the National Council of Public-Private Partnerships
- Excellence in Public/Private Partnership Awards, from the U.S. Conference of Mayors
- The Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, Department of Housing and Urban Development
- And many more state and local awards from across the country.
Did we miss an important award that honors cross-sector collaboration or public-private partnerships? Share it with us @theintersector on Twitter.