Getting five, 40-foot container loads of meals from the US to the Philippines is not an easy task, specially when you consider the fact that those meals were packaged by volunteers at Outreach Meal Packaging Events from New York to California. Gathering 120 pallets loaded with 6,600 boxes reminded me of an old-fashioned cattle roundup.

I love building strategic partnerships, but I learned from a master as I watched Outreach, Inc., ship nearly 1.5 million meals from the US to the Philippines.  The founder of Outreach, Inc., -Floyd Hammer- is a salty old businessman who is a master at building relationships. (He and his wife, Kathy, were invited to the White House by President Obama and Bush(41) to receive the 5,000th Points of Light Award)

Here are five principles I observed watching Floyd:

    •  Humility- As simple as it seems, the first step in establishing and maintaining strategic partnerships is humility- admitting you can’t do it by yourself.  For example, Outreach does not have a boots-on-the-ground presence in the Philippines so we needed someone to partner with us in the distribution of the meals.
    • Pointing the spotlight on others- When I wrote the press release, Floyd encouraged me to focus more on the efforts of the other partners involved.  Building and maintaining strategic partnerships require the ability to let others share, or even get, most of the limelight.
    • Helping other groups  accomplish their objectives – Rotary International was a key partner in this effort and one of the Rotary goals, as an organization, is to connect Rotary Clubs from one country to another.  Floyd is a Rotarian and several Rotary Clubs from the US were part of this effort. Furthermore, several Rotary Clubs in the Philippines will aid in the distribution of the meals.  It’s easy to gain a partner when you understand what that partner needs in order to accomplish their goals and objectives.
    • The importance of communication- Rapid response to emails and phone calls played an important part of this process. As we built new partnerships, I was surprised at how quickly some responded to our queries.  Not surprisingly, those who responded the most slowly – if at all- were government agencies.
    • Vision for further collaboration- When things work well, it’s important to strategize about future engagement.  Success breeds more success and good leaders will continue to build upon previous accomplishments. Floyd had a suggestion ready in pocket when Rotarians asked, “Okay, what do we do next?”

Any worthwhile collaboration model benefits everyone involved. If not, then a simple analysis of previously mentioned points will let you know where things went south.

In true collaborative efforts, everyone wins.