When and Why?
Our Healthy Alliance is ideal for alliances that seek to:
- Make deeper impacts at a larger scale
- Respond more effectively to a changing political landscape
- Increase depth and power through a vibrant and trusting alliance culture
Our Healthy Alliance can be used when forming an alliance to design structure and growth; or when an alliance is doing strategic planning; or when an alliance is poised to grow or has made a transition. In all cases, the assessment helps bring alliance leadership and member organizations to a common understanding about the alliance’s strengths and capacity-building needs.
Q) Is there a “right” time to conduct an assessment like this?
A) Given the incredibly full and fast paced lives of alliances and their members, it may never feel like the “right” time to take a holistic and long-term look at alliance effectiveness. But for alliances committed to ongoing learning and improvement, we believe it is essential that time and resources are occasionally carved out for reflection and assessment processes and the goal setting that emerges from them.
Q) How do we know if our alliance is ready?
A) Answering these four questions will help you decide if your alliance is ready to do an assessment:
1. Do you have a designated leadership team who will cheerlead this process, keep up the momentum, and make the process relevant to the alliance’s efforts to strengthen itself? An effective team would consist of one or two lead staff from the alliance itself (someone who plays a central role in all alliance activities and knows the members well, such as an Executive or Associate Director); and two or three leads from your member organizations. The size of your OHA leadership team will vary according to the size of your alliance.
These people will help make the case for why this process is important and relevant; point people to the resources they may need; troubleshoot and connect people to the OHA administrator for technical support; and support the process overall.
2. Will you take the time to do this well? As a general rule, each participant needs to allocate about 45 minutes to learn about and complete the assessment. There is no maximum to the number of participants and it is best to involve as many people as possible to get the full range of perspectives and insights about the alliance’s practices. Overall, the leadership team should plan on the assessment taking concentrated attention over one to three months: Planning for the assessment, Coordinating survey participants, Analyzing results, Presenting reports, Discussing implications, and Defining next steps.
3. Timing: Is your alliance embarking on a more ambitious agenda? Are you facing a transition? Are you doing strategic planning? The Our Healthy Alliance process can be a useful tool during developmental moments in the life cycle of an alliance. The assessment can help bring everyone up to speed on elements in the alliance they may be less familiar with; allow the group to identify priorities, key strategic issues, or challenges; and set a logical plan of action. The findings can establish a common understanding of alliance strengths, dynamics, and areas needing particular attention.
4. Is your alliance about to experience some significant change? The assessment process can be useful if your alliance is making significant change—such as creating or changing key staff positions; considering restructuring; or headed towards significant expansion, contraction, or a possible merger with other alliances.