You Don't Have To Go It Alone

I've tied my sneakers and many holiday packages and gifts. I've never tied a boy's tie and don't know much about knots for boats. I've gotten knots out of skeins of yarn and knots out of my daughter's hair--none too gently from what I've been told. My mother mastered the French knot--she could make them artfully and efficiently in her needlework.

There is a bible on this topic--a book written and illustrated by American Artist Clifford W. Ashley, aptly named the "Ashley Book of Knots," where one can learn the art and skill of knots and all types of ropework. I didn't tackle the 639 page book but I know that Mr. Ashley shows how to make all types of knots from the Monkey's Fist to Eye Splices to The Turk's Head to the Clove Hitch and, key ominous music here, the Noose.

Many people know the story of the Gordian Knot--an extremely complicated knot, the symbol of an intractable problem that is almost impossible to solve. When Alexander the Great went out to conquer the world he considered his victory over the Gordian Knot to be his most decisive. The prophesy said that whoever could untie it would rule all of Asia. He struggled with the knot and then finally and simply "untied" the knot by slicing it with his sword.

Of course, there is another reason for tying a knot--this is a common way to describe getting married and starting a partnership. This partnership is a genuinely loving way to approach life. Marriage helps to balance any of the challenges that will be in store for a couple and brings happiness to so many. Few people want to go it alone, they need and enjoy having a partner.

A partnership is an important concept to consider as we continue through the pandemic and its aftermath. The quandaries we are facing are so complex--both life-threatening and economically devastating. Some would say that science and reason hang in the balance--tugged from all sides by political messages--and that making sense of this time is a true Gordian knot. But the knot must be cut and we need to move on to pursue next steps for our nonprofit organizations.

Re-imagine the future. This is an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic and be even stronger.

Nonprofits could consider the strategy of organizing a partnership--they could tie the knot. It's an arrangement where two or more organizations could work together, creating a structure that could help each capture synergies. Every organization has strengths and weaknesses--round sides and flat sides. A partner would lean into these round sides, help to eliminate the flat, and take advantage of the best in all areas of the organizations.

Bottom line: This is a risk reduction plan that would not only strengthen each organization for the future, but carefully position them to make an even more significant impact. Planning would help the entire organization be more successful. In other words, two heads are always better than one--and this collaboration is fundamental to improving outcomes:

  • A partnership can potentially double your resources: offer a wider range of services to many more clients; reach out to many more potential clients; interest many more prospects and donors and provide an even higher level of service to each of them, thus building stronger relationships which always yields benefits in the long-term.

  • It can provide a richer pool of financial resources and business networks, also part of the equation; consolidating many of the duplicate administrative services is a potential advantage in saving resources.

  • Combining forces promotes greater creativity. Great partners do this successfully with one another. Lucy and Ricky built an empire with this approach, becoming beloved and world-renowned in the film industry; partners Ben and Jerry created world-class, creatively flavored ice-cream while developing a new business model supporting charities; Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard partnered to create their company in a garage and it went on to become one of the largest hardware and software companies in history.

  • A partner can help you be more daring by supporting your ideas and adding resources to make them successful--in many unexpected ways. Consider the partnerships in the Ocean's 11 movie that made each of the stars a modern day Rat Pack, further enhancing their images, extending their star power, producing significant box office success, inspiring multiple sequels. And on the other side good partnerships can help you by preventing you from risking too much. And how important is risk reduction right now?

Let's face it--its much more fun to celebrate with another person...that was a key reason that I wanted to work with a trusted associate in my own consulting business and Rosalyn Markovitz is a great example of that. Sincere, level-headed, loyal...believe me, she is also there for the disappointments. And she is always optimistic, like great development officers are. This is why family members are so important--who wants to celebrate Thanksgiving, have a wedding or attend a funeral without a child or a sibling or a cousin? Not me, my family means everything.

What do you have to think about in considering a solid partnership? What does it take to to be exposed to new perspectives and expertise?

  • Partners need to identify the specific challenge that they want to resolve--is it expanding the footprint of the organizations? Developing more funding for immediate needs? Developing long-term funding to stabilize the organizations?

  • Is it possible that sharing clients could bring added benefits? Could you not only share those clients but expand the entire base of client activity, adding more services simultaneously?

  • What are the common goals that both organizations could be working towards?

  • No matter what the consideration, clear and honest communication is essential to work out the details.

Michael Jordan would say that teamwork and intelligence help to win championships--not just one game. While setting out to conquer new horizons, the partnership can do just that--the relationship doesn't have to be as complicated as a Gordion Knot. A simple knot can help each partner grow boldly, particularly during a time when many nonprofits are competing for limited resources. There is little down-side to planning such a move, rather it is a calculated risk on which to embark with courage, confidence and the enjoyment of working together.


One final note for all readers:


Please remember that each employee is also a partner and would like to be treated that way. Every one of them has ideas and can contribute to creating a more inspired approach to tomorrow's success. Treating employees differently will be part of the new formula for the future.

Enough top down...we need something brand new to make a difference. Creating partnerships within the organization is a healthy approach--between colleagues, between departments, between work groups. This enriches the ecosystem of the entire organization and we all sleep better at night.

© 2019 Gayle Tissue Strategies

1643 Biltmore Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15217


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