Looking for a recommendation for your summer reading list? Be sure to pick up a copy of Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together, by Mark Gerencser, Reginald Van Lee, Fernando Napolitano, and Christopher Kelly. These four vice-presidents from Booz Allen Hamilton explain how tri-sector leadership “” business, government, and nonprofits “” work together to reach solutions for today's thorniest problems. The book, based on interviews with over 100 leaders from around the world including Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Jody Williams, shows how a mega-community approach is countering devastating health issues, conserving the environment and natural resources, and helping communities to grow and compete. Check out this excerpt:
Our increasingly globalized and interconnected world is creating issues that are too large for any one authority to solve alone. We are evolving to more and more complex network structures where interdependencies lead to a much higher degree of uncertainty in decision making. And those decisions must be made quickly due to increased connectivity among and between diverse stakeholders. Large-scale issues of unprecedented complexity represent both critical problems and significant opportunities. The situation calls for a new type of tri-sector leadership in which government, business, and civil society work together in a coordinated manner. A megacommunities approach helps to unravel these complexities.
More than a large community of people, megacommunities are communities of organizations whose leaders and members have deliberately come together across national, organizational and sector boundaries to reach the goals they cannot achieve alone. This tri-sector engagement of similarly concerned organizations focuses on a clearly defined issue where the vital interests of those organizations converge. A megacommunity focuses an issue so that it is clearly defined, but not so specifically that it becomes oversimplified. The issue is scaled, but maintains its complexity.
The megacommunity is not a hierarchical structure in which current work must be forced to fit. The megacommunity is defined by the issue it seeks to address. Stakeholders are not asked to change their stripes to fit the megacommunity. It is a abstract structure that values cross sector collaboration and finds value in the differences of its members. Engagement enables members to converge on the overlapping vital interest, provide input towards the megacommunity's direction and to generate flexible structures which manage participation and maintain momentum.
At heart, the megacommunity is an optimization opportunity, in which the entire system benefits. The ongoing “balancing of tensions“ is a critical component in any megacommunity's success. Members become involved due to the potential for addressing their own interests in a coordinated way with others involved in the issue. The megacommunity is not static, and members will engage and disengage based on their perceived value in megacommunity participation. Adaptability helps the Megacommunity focus on “mutual optimized success“ versus competition or maximized positioning.
The selection of a specific issue area and the identification of overlapping vital interests is of ultimate importance. Members must have a clear understanding of the goals of the megacommunity in order to gauge their appropriate level of engagement. A successful Megacommunity will maintain an ongoing state of flexible operations, cooperation, and collaboration while continually making progress toward addressing the overlapping vital interest.