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We often talk about multi-stakeholder collaboration, as one of the solutions to the issues and problems we now face.  The issues we face are cutting across many layers and are inter-related, and yet the solutions need to be implemented very quickly in order to respond to the fast-paced changes taking place in the world.

Whether we talk about geopolitical issues such as nuclear threat in the Mideast & Asia, financial crisis in EU and Euro, slowing down of the growth of the new emerging economies and/or  increasingly widening and debated social inequality, we do need to involve and engage various organizations throughout the world to address these issues and think of the  solutions.   Though the concept of collaboration by many different organizations with different objectives and missions sounds reasonable, it is quite difficult to implement, as in other cases of integration or collaboration.

I came across with similar dilemma very recently, on much smaller scale in two occasions.  One was when I worked with the students from the Pratt Institute, in designing the marketing strategy for the new service they were planning.  As we went through the list of questions such as “Who is our target segment?” “What unique value are we providing with our service?” “How do we reach them, price our service, etc.”, we had to go back and forth between the original concept behind the new service and the realistic marketing strategy.  It was very interesting experience for me, as we were often tempted to go beyond our original target segment which would get the most benefit from the service in order to get some volume and scale.  In the process of thinking about specifics, on the other hand, we came up with the target segment we did not think originally, as we felt that this new group would get the most benefit from the value proposition.

I had another experience.  The seminar was designed originally with one specific purpose, and yet, as we were planning, we wanted to appeal to many more people than we had originally thought.  In order to appeal to many more people, we ended up choosing the title of the seminar which will catch attention of many people. In other words, the project which began with one single purpose came to have multiple purposes.

In addition, different organizations were involved in the seminar with different objectives in mind, and we had to be very creative in order to satisfy at least part of the objectives of different stakeholders.  It was not an easy task.

I feel, however, many things in the real world today (i.e. globalizing world in 2012) require stakeholders with multiple purposes and missions.  I believe we will need much more of this type of collaboration in the future, now that many issues are inter-related, fast-paced and complex.  How to make it happen, what skills are needed to make it happen, AND how to make sure that many of us have opportunities to try them in the real world (as I am convinced that we cannot acquire this skill from the textbooks or classroom lectures alone!).  A question for all of us.  (A lot to think about on rainy Saturday!)

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