I believe in the power of cross-sector partnerships to address really wicked social and economic problems. But, I also believe that people who staff, participate in, and fund cross-sector partnerships need a systematic way and shared language to reflect on whether their partnerships are structured and behaving in ways that can plausibly lead to the achievement of their goals.

Since September, Living Cities has been sharing a strategic framework for cross-sector partnerships, which describes and defines a set of traits that make up a strong foundation, factors that accelerate or limit success, and behaviors that are necessary for high-impact cross-sector partnerships.

In the framing paper, I wrote, “There are many effective forms of cross-sector partnership…We are not asserting that there is one right way to structure a partnership. Most partnerships possess—for legitimate reasons—a quirky set of traits.”

I stand by that assertion. But, I’ve also been thinking that while there is not one right way to structure a partnership, there are better ways depending on the work it is doing, and the results it is trying to achieve. In particular, I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to collective impact efforts.

At the core of collective impact is a cross-sector partnership made up a broad set of partners who work together to create a vision for how they want their community to change, communicate that vision, and ensure accountability for progress toward that vision. So, here are my initial ideas about the structure and behavior of what an “ideal” collective impact cross-sector partnership might look like.

Click here to view this graphic as a PDF

What do you think? Do these traits feel like they hit the mark? Or are there traits and behaviors that seem off base? How would you change this?

If this has piqued your interest, I’m inviting you to be part of the work, provide feedback, and share your insights, ideas and experiences. Post in the comment section below, join the conversation on Twitter @Living_Cities using hashtag #xsector, or by reaching out to me directly at agold [at] livingcities.org or @AKGold11.