The Dumbbell Collaborative Model

Consider this quote from HBR

Collaboration is often talked about, but much less often done, and far less often done well.

From my experience, this is right on the money. Successful collaboration is not the norm but the exception.Can we do better? We can, perhaps, if we have a robust model to help us see how to do it. The above article offers such a model, based on the thinking of an outfit called “Geneva Global”. It is the dumbbell model.

Geneva Global seeks to promote international development. But it does not actually do projects on its own. Instead, it promotes collaboration to achieve successes in project areas. It does this, metaphorically, by lifting up the dumbbell. One the one side are the donors – people and institutions who have money and want certain results. On the other side are the NGO’s trying to achieve results. Geneva Global works to achieve better collaboration between these groups.

They role is so simple that most of us do not think of making it a goal. It is to listen to to what people are trying to do and to facilitate it in light of what other people can offer. Putting yourself in the middle position is critical to leverage the desires of people on either side.


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