The Posner Center for International Development is a mission-oriented community dedicated to making the world a more equitable and prosperous place. We believe that we can transform global development through catalyzing collaboration.
For mission-oriented centers like ours, it can be challenging to maintain a clear focus on the needs of the community while simultaneously advancing our own organizational aims. In an ideal world, the facilitation and leadership of your network would always be perfectly aligned with your organizational mission. However, it can be easy to fall out of balance or prioritize the many discrete needs of the community over new levels of achievement and visibility for your center.
Earlier this year, the Posner Center launched its first-ever annual Symposium with a theme “Lessons in Collaboration” where we sought to pay attention both to the work of individual community members and also the “how” of their work, i.e., what was it about collaboration that made it work? In addition to being an atypical and engaging event, it was a useful tool for advancing the Posner Center’s mission of transforming global development through collaboration while supporting the needs of our community members.
Events like our Symposium advance our mission by investing in the process of collaboration. In the words of our Executive Director, Burke Fishburn, “there is power in the process…We need to spend time on the actual process of collaboration, and be focused on the outcomes; that’s how we generate results.” At the Symposium, the Posner Center brought together both the process and outcomes of collaboration, testing out the impact it has on our community’s global development work.
Our 2019 Symposium was not your typical symposium. Our community members shared new case studies, raw lessons learned, research analysis, and in-depth dialectics in via dynamic audience formats – no sage on the stage. We had lively debates and challenging questions, such as the provocative Oxford-style debate on whether collaboration is a best practice in global development.
Creating events like an annual symposium are anything but easy, and often they involve logistical and content related challenges, but ultimately, they push boundaries, get attendees out of their comfort zone, and provide an experience that goes beyond reading a newsletter on a Monday morning. Our Symposium led to new and interesting opportunities for us organizationally, strengthened partnerships and participants gained meaningful relationships that continue through their work. Plus, as an added benefit, it has the potential to be a significant revenue generator!
Ultimately, the Symposium helped us synthesize our experiences with collaboration, advancing both our community’s work and our organizational mission simultaneously.