Partnership Lessons Learned and Applied


The DSO Team wishes everyone a very happy August! We are in the process of starting a new year of exciting partnerships and projects.

In this report we feature how we are continuing to incorporate lessons learned from our projects to improve our approach.

Thanks for your support.

Lessons learned & improvements we are making:  

Below we highlight specific examples of how we are improving our approach:

Bringing our best to our partners:

More context: Our partners are experts in what they do with a detailed understanding of their challenges and motivations. DSO brings a broad perspective with members and a network of people with both direct and indirect relevant experience. 

What we did: We took advantage of the wide skillset of our broader team and integrated more senior advisors who could talk with our partners at the beginning of the projects to share ideas and build trust. When coupled with the great research and fresh ideas of team members from outside the domain, these advisors really provide a unique resource our partners are happy to have.

Immersing ourselves into our partners work

More context: Our partners want us to immerse in the their work to better understand their end-users and mission.

What we did: In a current partnership with a school, we are immersing in the lives of the students, their families, and teachers. We are participating and co-creating a design challenge with them to help close the student achievement gap. Recently, our teammates took the same assessment that the students take just so we can get a feel for what the students actually experience.

Becoming lifelong partners better understand the partner business:

More context:  We heard it was important to take time to know what the partner does and determine how best to help based on this. We also got feedback that our continued support beyond a project engagement is a differentiator.

What we did: We increasingly found ways to engage with our partner before and after project engagements. Examples include attending and participating in partners’ events and initiatives. We also actively follow up with partners after projects to ensure the long-term success of projects and our partners. This usually involves following up on project recommendations, brainstorming solutions to top solutions, providing actionable feedback on new products and initiatives, connecting partners with our network, and amplifying fundraising campaigns.

As we make these improvements, the biggest indicator of project impact is successful implementation of our recommendations. For example, we learned that our partner ScholarshipPlus has updated their website based on our recommendations on how to communicate their stories and impact better and engage young donors and supporters.

We also love when our partners take time to share their personal excitement about the work, invite us to events, recommend us to more social impact organizations, and let us know when they are in town to catch-up!

We will continue to keep improving our approach.

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