The first ever Mix’n’Talent event brought forward a range of crucial reflections on how the civil society sector can drive social change in uncertain times.
One of the challenges that emerged from the discussions was that of silos. None of the challenges we face today can be separated from one another. And yet, all too often we try to address the world’s challenges from within our silos. We find silos at every level of our work: departmental silos within an organization; silos between one organization and another; silos between types of NGOs such as “environmental NGOs” and “human rights NGOs”. And even the civil society sector itself is a silo that views other sectors with suspicion.
Certainly, one NGO cannot prioritize everything. But we know that this is not necessary if we open up to the idea of strengthening coordination across and beyond the sector and work in alliances. Not simply partnerships, but true alliances built on a shared cause. Alliances that break through silos and stand above competition for funds and defending logos. Alliances with a strategic allocation of roles among partners that play to the different strengths and areas of focus, compensating individual shortcomings through a holistic approach.
The world around us is changing at increasing speed and global developments are challenging assumptions that many civil society organizations were founded on. Just as digitalization demands adapting funding models, the increasing interconnectedness of issues requires rethinking concepts of organizational identity and brand if we want to pursue our cause successfully. It demands a shift in our culture towards more networked thinking. And, as the discussion concluded, this requires trust. Trust beyond the silos, extending to other individuals, organizations and sectors. We need to learn to think and work as a movement.
This blog was written by Jana Merkelbach who also moderated the Mission Talent event. Her first guest blog entitled “Leading Change in Uncertain Times” was published on this site on 31/05/2017.