No organization can achieve its mission without strategic alliances and partnerships. An institution is not self-sufficient but dependent – dependent, typically on a wide range of agencies, peer institutions, credentialing organizations that are each, perhaps in very different ways, essential to the capacity of this organization to achieve its mission.
Consider doing a taxonomy: what are the organizations – external to us – that are essential to our institutional mission? With whom do we need to work, collaboratively, in intentional partnership so that we all succeed?
Institutional intelligence, then is about two things. First, the capacity to recognize the crucial role that other agencies have in your own institutional mission. You need them. And second, the capacity to work effectively in true partnership and collaboration with others – mutual respect, a commitment to the success of both your agency and the success of the other.
And it means no “parasites”: that is, you do not only receive; you also give. You are not looking for only and merely your advantage. You are not seeking to draw on the benefits from another agency without considering how this partnership calls for your contribution to the greater good.
Gordon T. Smith, Institutional Intelligence. IVPress, 2017. Chapter 10.
Jane Arsenault. Forging Nonprofit Alliances. (Jossey-Bass, 1998).