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Structure 15/15:

Talk About International Partnership Programs!

Watch the REPLAYS of Series 1 and Series 2.
  • Every event is open and free.

  • Every month is a different topic.

  • Every session is 15 followed by 15.

That's 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of conversation  (or the full hour if you have time). Topics are taken from my books, where you can learn more. Sessions are recorded and posted on YouTube for future viewing (see links to Series 1 and 2 above).

Now on Series 3!

Series 3 - Builder Basics - 2023

FEATURING:  Series 3 Builder Basics - Eventbrite RSVP here.
Series 3: April, May, & June


Wednesday, 12 pm ET

June 14, 2023

Partnerships love money - what does that do to the partnering? 

​​ How to Think Structurally:  Duality Dynamics, Part 2

Partnership programs cannot survive without funding, at least core support - so much so, that the need for funds can skew the partnership. What happens to governing bodies and secretariats when donors enter the picture? Is there room for any power beyond the power of the purse?  Learn about a few important dualities that shape the partnership around the money.  If you can recognize the dualities, you can work with them to ensure balance - for greater stability and progress.  


Series 3 - Builder Basics - 2023

Watch the REPLAYS of Series 1 and Series 2.


Wednesday, 12 pm ET

May 10, 2023

Partnerships thrive on dualities - can you spot yours? 

​​ How to Think Structurally:  Duality Dynamics, Part 1

Dualities - those interactive dynamics - are everywhere in partnership programs once you start looking. It helps to spot them and then work them:  knowing which mode you're in and why; mixing and matching modes to maximum effect.  In this second session, we'll start with duality dynamics between governing bodies and secretariats.   Foot on the accelerator and hand on the gears, power and steer, and keep it smooth.


Wednesday, 12 pm ET

April 12, 2023

Partnerships need structure - do you know how to do yours? 

​​ How to Think Structurally:  Partnership Collectives

You're the sector expert, you know your stuff - or you're the lawyer, you know your contracts - but do you know your structure? Setting up an international partnership for GPGs or any kind of collective action takes a certain mindset, an ability to see and work with all those modular component parts that bring the partners together and make the partnership work. In this first session, we'll introduce the notion of "collectives" and then spend some time talking about how you create them and what you do with them. 

Series 2 - Balance Basics - 2021/22


Session 14:
Incrementalism & Innovation

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

May 11, 2022

Building incrementally makes room for innovation, which spurs more increments.

​​ It's All in the Balance: Incrementalism and Innovation

​Partnership growth and innovation can be risky. But partners can keep their balance while growing by being deliberately incremental. And they can keep their balance while innovating by being deliberate about risk. Incrementalism supports innovation, and both benefit if risk is treated as a collective - so partners proceed together with their eyes wide open. And that can then open the door to more innovation and increments ....


Session 13:
Strengthening the Core

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

April 13, 2022

In partnerships, strengthening the core means strengthening the connections.


​​      It's All in the Balance: Strengthening the Core


​At the core of every international partnership program is a composite of collectives. That means a strong and balanced core only happens when partnering components are well-connected and well-aligned. It's a veritable cornucopia of "cores" out there, but we can still zero in on some especially key connections that partners will want to navigate and cultivate. Join us for a taste of some prime structural examples, followed by a chance to discuss the whole buffet.


Session 12:
Building Buttresses

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

March 9, 2022

You can add buttresses to amplify your partnering and your partnership results.

​​       It's All in the Balance: Building Buttresses


​If you learned about flying buttresses in Art 101, you know what beautiful structures they can support - creating more space, more height, and more light. International partnership programs are the same. They can be buttressed for greater inclusivity, transparency, diversity, and clarity. With an eye to medieval architectural wonders, we'll look at how buttresses work and what specific partnership components can serve as buttresses to amplify international partnering.


Session 11:
Building Firm Foundations

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

February 9, 2022

Make your foundation contextual and flexible enough to keep the balance.

​​     It's All in the Balance: Building Firm Foundations

​Foundations are fundamental for international partnership programs. We don't need parables to explain the value of firm foundations, but foundations also need to fit the context - to build into the hills. And they need flexibility - to weather the waves and even earthquakes. Foundational strength and contours come from a variety of sources. You have choices to make, options for strengthening, and ways to stabilize. Let's talk about how to build a fit-for-purpose firm foundation.     


Session 10:
Locating the Center of Gravity

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

January 12, 2021

If you’re an active partnership, you'll need a stable center of gravity to stay balanced.

​      It's All in the Balance: Locating the Center of Gravity

The center of gravity has an oversized effect on the rest of the partnership.  Where you put it – in the governing body, in the supporting entity, or somewhere else – affects your culture and operations.  How it relates to the whole determines if the partnership program is sustainable over time.  Find out how partners can be deliberate about their center of gravity.  Learn how to find your center of gravity to mind your balance.     


Session 9:
Creating Critical Mass

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

December 8, 2021

Ahoy! Critical mass is the ballast that keeps your partnership program afloat.

​      It's All in the Balance: Creating Critical Mass

As a measure of balance, creating and keeping critical mass is a key to partnership stability and sustainability. What is it? How does it manifest? How do you know when you have it? How can you get it? International partners who can answer these questions have their hands on the tiller for smooth sailing, even in choppy seas. This isn't just physics, it's partnership pragmatics.


Wednesday, 12 pm ET

November 10, 2021

 Partnering starts where you find the sweet spot - and continues when you keep it sweet.


       ​It's All in the Balance:  Finding the Sweet Spot

Can you spot the sweet spot? International partnership programs are voluntary. Partners have to be motivated to join. They need incentives to engage. And they need to see benefits to stay on board. What brings and holds them together is a threshold question - motivations can differ, but you need enough sweet spot to create sustainable collectives. Learn how to spot the sweet spot and help it grow. We'll share some examples.

Series 1 - Structure Basics - 2020/21

Watch the REPLAYS of Series 1.


Session 7:
Consensus Decisions Are Key

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

May 12, 2021

  Here's a thought to contemplate: You have to keep consensus to keep the partnership.


       ​When It Comes to Collectives, Consensus is Key

International partnership programs are based on cooperation. No surprise then that their governing bodies make decisions by consensus in meetings and no objection between meetings. Is it really worth the extra effort to work decisions till everyone is on board? Do partners really understand how this decision making works? You'll be surprised: There is more than meets the eye, more at stake, more nuance, and more benefits, to consensus.


Session 6:

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

April 14, 2021

  It's time to look at donor dynamics and see beyond trust funds to partnerships.


       ​Donor Dynamics in International Partnership Programs

Donors bring the funds, but that is just the start. Donors are partners, and we can let trust funds support partnership programs, not the other way around. How does that work? How do you flip vertical funds flows into horizontal partnering? How do you amplify partnership engagement over trustee services? There is a role for both contracts and structure to get the full symbiosis. It's about much more than the money!


Session 5:

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

March 10 , 2021

  We've been building up to this one: Let's take a look at what I call "synergistic conflicts."


       ​Conflicts vs. Synergies in International Partnership Programs

International partnership programs are replete with "conflicts of interest" (COI) - if that's how you choose to see them. Looked at another way, they may in fact be some of your most valued partnership synergies. Learn to spot the difference, and learn how to handle COIs in a partnership-oriented way. For all you partners who want to maximize your combined efforts, don't let calling something a COI undermine your partnership program!


Session 4:
The Inhouse Partner Custodian Secretariat

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

February 10, 2021

Continuing into 2021 with Structure 15/15, let's celebrate the special role of secretariats:

The Inhouse Partner Custodian Secretariat

Secretariats can make or break international partnership programs. At their best, they are the special sauce. Housed in existing organizations, good secretariat staff learn how to live the in/out duality every day. Embedded in partner organizations, they have lots of functions and can fill in the gaps (the custodial effect). Never underestimate the power of an optimally-placed, well-balanced, inhouse secretariat.


Session 3:
The Full Trustee Is Not the Limited Trustee

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

January 13, 2021

To kick off 2021, Structure 15/15 will take a look at another key and riveting distinction: 

The Full Trustee Is Not the Limited Trustee.

What is the difference, why does it matter, and when is one or the other best? Each modality has its merits, and, as usual, the choice depends on the context. Join us to unpack what it means to be an international fiduciary, how it impacts secretariat and other roles, and how the variations make for a richer (literally!) landscape of international partnership programs.  Good decisions on structure come from informed options.


Session 2: The
Trustee Is Not the Secretariat

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

December 9, 2020

Continuing the Structure 15/15 series, we'll take a look at a key distinction: 

The Trustee Is Not the Secretariat.

Some international partnership programs have only a "trustee," some have only a "secretariat," and some have a generic "administrator." Is there a difference? Does it matter? Yes and yes. The labels don't matter as much as the functions. Join us to learn a few basics on how different roles can be structured and synergized to make partnership programs their most effective best.


Session 1:
Like Rock,
Like Water

Wednesday, 12 pm ET

November 11, 2020

Kicking off the Structure 15/15 series, we start with ancient wisdom: Like rock, like water.


To be fit-for-purpose, international partnership programs have to be contextual.

But contexts change, so they also have to be flexible. And flexibility requires stability because full flexibility without stability is just confusion and complexity.


Tried and true: Create stability through a clear and unifying charter. Treat the charter as an adopted document. Leverage the governing body to embed a degree of easy amendability from the start. This enables living, breathing partnership documentation.

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