While on the treadmill this morning (no the workout has nothing to do with this post but I thought I'd mention it anyway!), I saw an ad for an upcoming fitness event benefitting MS research. The MS Society is huge, the walk/run is huge, so-- not surprisingly-- they secured a couple of huge sponsors.
There is a tendency for big organizations to seek out others of comparable size when seeking advice, contracting for services, soliciting donations, etc. Bigs aren't alone. Small and medium sized groups do the same. It's like the pairing up of people at roughly the same goodlooking-ness level. There certainly aren't any rules but the association feels more comfortable because they "get" you.
There is a missed opportunity hidden in this conventional practice. Just as we seek diversity at the individual level, organizations similar should seek diversity in their organizational associations. Insights on agility and reduced overhead of a small business would be invaluable to a big business going through times of change. A large organization's financial contribution to a small non-for-profit could dramatically expand their reach and impact. Often a working group or consulting team is given credit for engineering a game-changing approach. But the truth behind the story is that the spark occurred between two people chatting on their way to the vending machine.
Of course, the sheer scale of some problems require comparable match-ups but these are fewer than we assume. Whatever your vantage point-- from a big, medium, or small- consider how switching up a couple of key associations might actually be the solution you've been after.