Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Mutual Mission Theory: From Barn-Raising to Pop-Up Collaboration — Leveraging the Will to Collaborate to Fortify National Resiliency

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Rosalie J. Wyatt
July 25, 2017

Earlier in America’s history, the will to collaborate was reflected in the activity of barn-raising for mutual benefit. After the industrial revolution and urbanization, evidence of this particular form of collaboration waned. Yet Americans continue to demonstrate the will to collaborate for necessity, innovation and/or altruism. The will to collaborate is deeply ingrained in the human spirit and is integral to the engine that continues to drive civilization.

Photo retrieved from Old Stone House Museum website: Http://www.oldstonehousemuseum.org

Photo retrieved from Old Stone House Museum website:

Today, evidence of this will to collaborate is expressed through community inspired mutual missions, which local leaders have developed and continue to develop in order to reinforce the local response capacity. This will is also expressed through various forms of pop-up collaboration for crisis response and recovery.

In a world of competition for limited resources for large-scale crisis preparedness and response, reinforcement of the existing local response capacity is critical, especially in America’s strategic communities with ports and military bases. America’s national security and economic stability depend upon the response capacity of these communities including continuity of local critical infrastructure.

In the course of my doctoral research to understand barriers and incentives to private sector engagement and cross-sector collaboration for resiliency in the first 72 hours of a large-scale or national crisis, a common refrain by public and private sector leaders in six communities of the East, Gulf and West Coasts, was a heartfelt interest to collaborate, but for sector-silo bias. Participants in my study defined sector-silo bias at the sector, institutional or organizational level as a perceived barrier to collaboration due to different motivations, groupthink or taking care of one’s own.

In the past, where sector-silo bias has quietly or openly hindered the collaboration needed to achieve an objective important to stakeholders, there has been no formally recognized mechanism for working through this perceived barrier.

Today, however, I see a new potential for community resiliency through cross-sector collaboration rooted in extraordinary mutual missions together with a resiliency set-aside. What does this mean?

The mutual mission theory, as introduced this year in my dissertation, embodies a policy and culture whereby for every new law or regulation pertinent to domestic resiliency, a small resiliency set- aside shall be reserved to encourage local-level collaboration and innovation to fill a gap(s) in strategic community resiliency while working through sector-silo bias. Furthermore, the resiliency set-aside can be applied to the development of existing and or new mutual missions at the community, regional and or national levels.

Inculcating the resiliency set-aside in the culture is more important than the amount. Even the smallest percentage of a program’s overall budget and or tax credits may suffice as a catalyst for cross-sector collaboration. These incentives should stimulate local discussion, competition and innovation while working through sector-silo bias.

Policy leaders may utilize the resiliency set-aside as a one of a kind incentive to stimulate collaboration between disparate sectors or organizations and realize a positive return on investment in community resiliency.

Locally-inspired mutual missions were developed to fill specific gaps and/or reinforce the response capacity of America’s strategic communities. Mutual mission emerged as a theme from my research and data analysis, based on qualitative interviews with my research participants and ReadyCommunities Partnership symposia summaries.

Joint Task Force Seven is an example of a locally developed extraordinary mutual mission. As described by Lauren Meher of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association in 2011, seven parish sheriffs formed the maritime counterterrorism JTF7, under the leadership of Bud Torres, by engaging the leadership of the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and petrochemical industry partners of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge community to protect lives and infrastructure. Initial investments included funding from the port through a homeland security grant along with equipment and arrest powers provided by the sheriffs.

In contrast to a mutual mission, pop-up collaboration is a form of engagement for crisis preparedness, response or rebuilding and can take place on a moment’s notice via social media or in person. For example, according to an American Red Cross 2016 website posting, in collaboration with government and community leaders, the American Red Cross coordinated volunteers in response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

Using incentives to spur collaboration to work through sector-silo bias, the mutual mission theory provides a public policy tool kit for institutionalizing new or existing mutual missions of extraordinary value to community resiliency. Mutual missions are happening now without government incentives, but government and policy leaders can become a partner to mutual missions to facilitate incubation of what is already happening at the local level to fortify national resiliency.

Leveraging the American will to collaborate across sectors together with the resiliency set-aside for strategic military base and port communities, leaders are equipped to enhance community-level resiliency while contributing to national resiliency, one mutual mission at a time.
As referenced throughout this article, Dr. Wyatt’s doctoral dissertation, Engaging the Private Sector to Fortify Strategic Base and Port Community Resiliency in the Aftermath of a National Crisis was published by ProQuest on June 20, 2017.

Author: Rosalie J. Wyatt, Ph.D., MBA is president of Wyatt CGI, Inc., providing clients with solution-based stakeholder engagement services for business development and citizen advocacy. Dr. Wyatt serves as the National Director of the ReadyCommunities Partnership and its Service or Sacrifice Awards and is the director of the Afghan Trusted Network and an officer of the Bayat Foundation board of directors. Dr. Wyatt can be reached at [email protected]


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *