Collaboration: The Gift That Keeps on Giving


In 2013, New Orleans demonstrated its role as a leading collaborative city.  The spirit of collaboration and a shared vision for our future is palpable no matter where you work.  Partnerships abound in every sector– from public health to crime and violence prevention, and in 2014 more than ever before we will witness a unified effort to accelerate the impact economy.

In their 2013 book The Metropolitan Revolution, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institute take a look at How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy. The following excerpt from the book’s conclusion bodes well for New Orleans and the impact economy:

The health of metro’s networks is as important a gauge of metropolitan potential as traditional economic or social metrics. It is measured more by qualitative than quantitative means—“You know it when you see it,” as Justice Potter Stewart famously said, in a different context, years ago.  We have devised a simple test to discern whether a metropolis is open or closed, collaborative or divisive: Spend fifteen minutes in a conversation with elected officials or appointed leaders, such as the head of a business chamber or local philanthropy.  If they talk about networks they are organizing or participating in and talk up their fellow partners, you have entered an open, functioning metropolis…You can predict in a quarter of an hour which metros are on a path to attract talent, crack hard problems, and make important choices…

In the end, collaboration and network building are the most important foundations for transformative action in a city and metropolis. Everything that follows—vision, strategy, tactics and impact—is derivative.  Build and steward a strong network, and you have set a platform for generational change.  Networks, in short, are the gift that keeps on giving.

Why collaborate?

Today’s world is complex, and the economic, social and environmental issues we aspire to address call for scaled-up solutions. By working collaboratively, we can more effectively and efficiently get to the heart of problems and sustain a continued flow of information and knowledge. Our organizations will then be better positioned to supply goods and services that meet the demands of a changing market and transform our communities for the better. Partnerships across sectors and collaborative organizational models enhance our mutual success.  This is why collaboration is one of our key values at LifeCity; guided by a shared vision and holistic approach, we are bound to succeed.

How are we doing so far?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know intuitively that New Orleans is brimming with inspiring, collaborative leaders from every sector. Prosperity NOLA, for one, an economic development plan, steered by the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Business Alliance, involved over 200 stakeholders in the planning process. To give another example, in the domain of public health, programs like FitNOLA, NOLA for Life, KidsWalk Coalition and Bike Easy’s Ciclovía on Esplanade Ave. worked in 2013 in partnership with a wide range of players to increase recreational opportunities for our kids and teach them about maintaining healthy lifestyles.

2014: A Sustainable and Impactful Year for New Orleans

New Orleans received many accolades in 2013, from being ranked the fastest growing city in America by Forbes to the best metropolitan economy by the Brookings Institute. Just this past week Forbes called Louisiana “America’s New Frontier for Business Opportunity.”  By working collaboratively, we can leverage this momentum to build even stronger networks, lead the impact economy from the bottom up, and become the most sustainable city in 2014.