The Solution Sector Defined
When companies, nonprofits and governments come together to solve problems – and effectively draw on the full range of resources and assets each brings to the table – everyone benefits: Profits increase, long-term missions are realized and citizens are served.
Such cross-sector collaborators make up what we at CSR Communications call “the Solution Sector.” This recently coined term places under one umbrella all organizations – public and private, for profit and not-for-profit – dedicated to tackling today’s societal and environmental challenges together.
Maximizing All Organizations’ Potential for Addressing the World’s Woes
The Solution Sector levels the playing field and ups everyone’s game. Cooperation trumps silos. Sharing knowledge to achieve common goals bests competition or jockeying for limelight. Pooling resources and assets overrides assumptions or skepticism based on an organizations’ tax status. The Solution Sector’s potential impact is almost unimaginable.
CSR Communications is committed to the Solution Sector’s success. We firmly agree that cross-sector collaboration is the only way to solve such issues as climate change, world hunger, extreme poverty, inequality and poor education systems. And from the global Sustainable Development Goals to neighborhood improvement, we see examples of cross-sector collaboration getting the job done.
Yet to tackle truly massive problems with the sense of urgency required, we must incite and support a fundamental shift in how most leaders and organizations approach cross-sector endeavors. That’s where CSR Communications can help.
The idea that no single sector can solve persistent social problems is not new. The call to collaborative action gave birth to strategic philanthropy, public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility and, more recently, shared value.
Each approach has its merits and track record of successes. But none has completely overridden the power dynamics and skepticism among and between sectors. Such persistent prejudices and divisions impede the Solution Sector’s ultimate potential.
In addition, while some people and organizations may fully embrace these movements – the first movers or early adopters – others are slower to the game or may never shift their thinking and behavior. Without the ability to distinguish between those willing to embrace the Solution Sector and those not, well-meaning leaders risk investing time and energy pursuing partnerships that won’t yield fruit.
Four Steps to Solution Sector Success
CSR Communications offers a four-step process to support Solution Sector leaders and early adopters in their quest to transform our approach to solving societal and environmental problems:
- UNDERSTAND PSYCHOGRAPHICS OF (POTENTIAL) PARTNERS. Imagine diplomats negotiating a peace accord without understanding the perspective, cultural norms, needs and fears of each country represented. A firm and binding commitment must suit each player at the table. Similarly, Solution Sector leaders must take into account the motivations and attitudes of all those responsible for building and implementing partnerships.
- DRIVE ORGANIZATIONAL MIND SHIFT. We help individual early adopters drive change within their organizations to move closer to the Solution Sector end of the continuum. Honest introspection and clarity of purpose are required before entering into any partnership.
- CHOOSE PARTNERS WISELY. We train partnership builders to distinguish among those ready for the Solution Sector and those not.
- BE A BETTER PARTNER. With our Transforming Organizations and Transforming Teams services, we support and strengthen organizations so that they are better partners – able to navigate power dynamics, change them, and deliver results.
Understand Partner Psychographics
While “tri-sector athletes” (leaders with work experience in public, private and nonprofit sectors) and shared value leaders get lots of buzz, where do most people in partnership building roles in organizations sit on the spectrum? Are there enough tri-sector athletes to realize the shared value vision? How do we talk to and engage with those people in organizations who aren’t quite there yet? And how do we determine which are never going to get there?
In August 2016, CSR Communications launched a survey to map the types of personas in partnership-building roles in government, for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Based on an analysis of the results (available early October 2016), CSR Communications will develop profiles and provide corresponding tips for engaging each segment of partnership leaders in the Solution Sector. Such psychographic mapping is designed to ensure CSR Communications’ clients get the most out of a partnership no matter where their potential partners sit on the spectrum.
Sign up to download a copy of the research report and receive updates on our Solution Sector work.
Intrapreneurs Boot Camp
This 12-week program will offer training, coaching and support to individuals leading change inside their organizations. It’s designed to support internal change agents who often don’t get the same recognition, resources, support, community and celebration as social entrepreneurs who strike out on their own. Participants will receive weekly resources, reading lists, tools and checklists to facilitate their efforts. In addition, regular group Q&A calls allow participants to brainstorm solutions with CSR Communications founder, Nancy Murphy, and each other.
Sign up to receive alerts when enrollment opens.