by Aditi Sinha
There’s strength in numbers. This particularly holds true for the non-profit sector, which in the last two decades has seen the rise of a multitude of consortiums. Working in a consortium provides an excellent opportunity to leverage strengths and resources. It brings many advantages – complementarity, more outreach and lesser duplication of efforts. Over the last few years, I’ve learned many things about working in a consortium. But the thing that always stands out is effective communication. How well a consortium communicates within itself and with its external stakeholders is a major determining factor in its success. Although there are dozens of lessons learned, here are five key ones:
- Create a unifying brand identity: A consortium is a marriage of many alliances. An important step is to create an identity that captures the ambition of the new product or project and be acceptable to all partner organisations. Some questions to consider are: Does the consortium have its own unique brand identity? Is the look and feel of the brand identity free of any bias to any of the partners? Are all the partners equally and adequately represented?
- Work towards a common vision and mission: Creating an aspirational vision and mission is an ideal way to solidify a partnership process. Often this is the first time that partners start to see something concrete emerge out of their months of planning. By describing the anticipated results, partners will be able to contribute to the achievement of the goals.
- Focus on open dialogue: With unique visions and goals, each partner has a point to make. An open dialogue is important to encourage a shared vision and to strengthen the relationships between partners. This can help avoid conflict and reduce the risk of disagreements.
- Get your communication material ready: First, create a specialised team for communication related tasks – strategic communication plans, key messages, collaterals, delivery vehicles, target audiences, engagement, socialisation, etc. Then move forward. This goes without saying – Avoid jargon and heavy information. Above all, make sure that the information is vetted by each partner before it is released to the public.
- Internal communication: Communicate at regular intervals amongst yourselves. Give time for detailed discussions that can capture everyone’s opinion. Prioritise tasks and goals within partner meetings. Keep everyone updated about developments in a timely manner. Sometimes it’s useful to have a lead organisation that acts as a coordinator within the consortium.
This article was originally published in the Aditi bulletin, an online publication, compiled by theCentre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), to connect with Think Tanks in the South Asian region.