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Mayors often come into office with bold ideas for tackling the toughest issues — whether it’s gun violence, school readiness, homelessness, or workforce development. And if they don’t know it before they get to city hall, one of the first things they learn upon arrival is that they can’t go it alone.
The truth is that the most successful and sustainable solutions demand the buy-in, brainpower, and resources of stakeholders across a city, including universities, nonprofits, businesses, foundations, and neighborhood groups.
This week, one of our most exciting collaborations, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, was back in session. And the topic of the four-day session that took place this week was — guess what? — collaboration.
The idea to focus on cross-sector collaboration came from the mayors themselves, who told us that forging these partnerships is one of the most important — and difficult — parts of their jobs. So we brought 80 people from 10 cities to New York City to help them learn how to do it better.
Three things that have always helped me to promote a culture and practice of collaboration:
- Set the expectation to collaborate from the top. There is no replacement for a CEO, nonprofit executive director, or city leader making it clear that partnerships are important and expected.
- Lead with “Yes.” Collaboration requires flexible thinking when there are clear gains to be made.
- Hardwire collaboration. Successful collaborations don’t just happen. They require intention — and usually an organizational structure.
Read the full article on cross-sector collaboration by Patricia E. Harris at Medium