If you’ve landed on this page, you’ve probably begun thinking about what the power of possibility could mean for your organization and your core purpose.
You might believe — or be willing to consider — that there’s a powerful opportunity for boards and organizations to think big about strategic partnerships and restructuring and how they could positively impact your mission.
But you also might be wondering: Where do we start? And do we need expert guidance to help us along the way?
If you’re trying to determine if you need a facilitator to support your exploration of strategic alliances and restructuring — and how to evaluate candidates for the role — this guide is for you.
Many organizations find it helpful to engage a facilitator to help think through the questions presented in the discussion guides. In general, facilitators can be helpful in offering objectivity, bringing expert perspectives from their experiences with other organizations, and obtaining and constructively sharing sensitive information. Particularly with respect to strategic alliances and restructuring, facilitation can be helpful in assessing readiness, negotiating terms and conditions, and navigating and resolving issues that can surface when integrating different organizational cultures.
That said, not every circumstance calls for a facilitator, and many of the questions raised in the discussion guides can be tackled on your own. Below are some criteria to help your board determine if a facilitator is needed for your situation.
Just as every organization is unique, every potential strategic partnership is unique. Some are short-term, others are long-term; some involve many people and entities, others involve just a few. Taking stock of these and other considerations can help you to determine whether external support might be needed.
Are you considering a strategic alliance or restructuring option that involves a change in legal structure, such as a parent-subsidiary arrangement or a merger?
Are the organizations involved relatively large and complex? Do the participating organizations have large boards of directors?
Does the strategic partnership being considered have a lot of moving parts?
Are the participating organizations remote from one another or geographically dispersed?
The term “due diligence” is often used to describe the background research that organizations conduct to assess and mitigate risk when considering a strategic partnership. Here, we use the term broadly to include both legal and financial review, as well as other factors such as organizational culture.
Do your organizations need guidance in conducting the necessary legal and financial due diligence?
Could your organizations benefit from support in conducting the necessary cultural due diligence?
The evolution of strategic alliance and restructuring conversations has a lot to do with the individuals involved. By clearly assessing the experience and perspectives of the leaders at the table, organizations can gauge the likelihood of needing expert facilitation.
Are the involved leaders new to strategic alliances and restructuring?
Are any of the involved organizations led by a founding board (or majority founding board)?
If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, particularly those in the first section, you may want to consider engaging an experienced facilitator to support your exploration of the power of possibility. After determining that you’d like to engage a facilitator, you’ll find yourself asking “How do we know that he or she is qualified?” The next section of this guide is designed to help.
Imagining your core purpose executed differently — in a new configuration, with a new partner, with a new legal structure — is a big deal. If you’ve determined that you need a facilitator for your endeavor, your investment in his or her talents should pay off. If you are unsure of where to begin, you might consider asking peer organizations for facilitator recommendations. Talking with funders is another good place to start. Ask if they know of facilitators who have established reputations and of facilitation resources in your community. Once you have identified some candidates, use the questions below to help determine if they match your needs.
Keep in mind that an effective facilitator need not be a ready-made expert on your exact scope of services. His or her job is to support a process that has integrity. Restructuring and facilitation expertise are paramount to having a successful engagement. If your facilitator can build and maintain the trust of both (or all) parties through reliable expertise, clear communication, and a process that maintains vision and momentum even while weathering inevitable setbacks, you are in good hands.