Fronteer Sunrise #1: Coalitions for Impact

Served up at dawn to kick-start the day

Two weeks ago we hosted our first breakfast event called the ‘Fronteer Sunrise’. A new event to bring together kindred spirits and talk about topics that drive us in our daily work. A morning filled with inspiration and interaction: to exchange ideas and create a shared vision. Because; what better way to start your day than to celebrate the sunrise and share inspiration over breakfast? Right, that’s what we thought.

#1 The Coalitions for Impact Edition

This first edition centered all around the topic of coalitions. Why? Because the challenges of today are often too big to tackle alone and ask for systemic collaboration between stakeholders. Moreover: existing relations are often limited to transactional interactions.

We believe in the power of coalitions: real value exchange in which stakeholders overcome traditional boundaries, collaborate and support each other to make more impact, together.

Partnerships vs Coalitions

So what is the difference between a partnership and a coalition? We define a partnership as:

An arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.

In partnerships, stakeholders collaborate to advance their own needs or interests through value exchange. It is a win-win situation: each partner gets a clear benefit out of the collaboration.

Coalitions, on the other hand, are a bit more complex. Coalitions often consist of more than two stakeholders that, besides their own interests, also collaborate to serve a higher goal. Our definition of a coalition:

A pact (or treaty) among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, for a common cause.

Increasingly, we have been doing work around setting up coalitions. On of the examples is a project we did for Rabobank about sustainable living. Theo Harms from Rabobank joined the Fronteer Sunrise to share his thoughts and experiences.

Presentation by Theo HarmsRabobank

Fronteer Sunrise Digest

So let’s review some key insights from our morning discussions:

  • It all starts with shared enthusiasm
    The coalition approach is especially useful to spark joint enthusiasm. It gets people moving towards a joint goal and by focusing on the content of the challenge itself, people go beyond boundaries to explore new ideas and opportunities. 
  • Be open about the risks for all coalition partners
    Trust is at the base of partnerships and coalitions. It is essential to be transparent about existing fears concerning the coalition. Developing a clear picture of the different coalition partners’ interests helps to establish trust.
  • Focus on company interest
    Part of the struggle around aligning business objectives is related to the interests of individual stakeholders. People often have KPI’s to meet and even though the coalition might meet larger company objectives, people feel reluctant to pursue them when it does not match their own business objectives or KPI’s. Therefore, getting top management involved seems to improve the chances of success. They can see across department objectives to ensure a business fit on the highest level; meeting core values and strategic company goals. 
  • Ensuring commitment is key
    When the business plans come into the mix, it is fairly easy for stakeholders to hide behind business realities and its (old) ways of doing. When that happens, barriers that were crossed in ideation because of shared enthusiasm are built back up again. So in fact, ensuring business commitment beforehand is key in making a coalition successful. 
  • Personal passions make waves
    People run faster when they are passionate about the end goal. So make sure to appeal to the personal interests of your key stakeholders. They will put in a bigger effort to get things done within your coalition and in their own organisation.
  • Offer the possibility to escape
    Building a coalition is always an exciting endeavour. You are exploring new territories and will encounter new boundaries. Acknowledge that. And offer stakeholders a way out. Challenge them when they do, but also accept that sometimes, what seemed to be the ideal coalition partner at first, might turn out not to be. 
Lively discussions over breakfast

Curious about coalitions or interested in co-hosting the Fronteer Sunrise? Talk to us!