Developing a strong and successful initiative that achieves its goals

​​​​1. Understanding the context

A solid understanding of the local context will help you shape your initiative. Partners should be able to help.

The design of Nigeria’s Corporate Governance Rating System draws on the leadership’s deep insights into the local context, such as companies’ desire to gain finance on international markets. Acknowledging Nigeria’s reputation for corruption, the initiative leadership arranged for independent international observers with a strong ethical reputation to participate. This helped to demonstrate transparency and gain the trust of outsiders.

“The context is particularly important when replicating projects in different countries or setting up one project which spans an entire continent or region.”

– Deon Rossouw, Chief Executive Director, The Ethics Institute

2. Integrating global standards in local contexts

Some initiatives find international best practices a useful resource to help meet local needs. Doing this requires a deep understanding of both those standards and the local context.

The Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance has put in place principles drawing on integrity standards and guidance from Transparency International, the OECD, World Bank, World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and International Chamber of Commerce. Its certification scheme is adapted from the ISO 37001:2016 Standard “Anti-bribery management systems”, tailored to the Ukrainian business context.

Other certification initiatives have used other combinations of standards as their baseline. Find out more on our dedicated certification resource pages on the B20 Collective Action Hub.

3. Finding the right partners

Working with the right local partners will help you gain a deeper understanding of the political, social and cultural context. Your partners should have the influence and convening power to connect with the right people and drive the initiative forward.

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network has partnered with the Nigerian Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) for the MACN Nigeria – Business Action Against Corruption project. This is aimed at mitigating corruption risks when a vessel arrives in Nigerian ports. The CBi’s on-the-ground knowledge has helped MACN’s membership and Secretariat to position the project appropriately and connect with the right local partners and stakeholders. MACN always seeks to work together with reliable local partners and invests time and effort to find suitable collaborators to ensure sustainability and successful outcomes to their Collective Action initiatives.

4. Building shared values and trust

Partners generally need to be credible, trustworthy and committed to the same ultimate goal.

An open negotiation and a written agreement outlining roles, responsibilities and expectations will help prevent problems later on.

"You need to secure a commitment to achieve objectives and establish trusting relationships."

– Deon Rossouw, Chief Executive Director, The Ethics Institute

5. Structuring for the long term

Many long-running initiatives emphasise the importance of taking time to prepare. Other advice includes being realistic about resources (funding, time) and what you can expect from other stakeholders.

The founders of the Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance spent an entire year preparing for the initiative launch. They solicited feedback from leading organisations and active Collective Action initiatives in the region and internationally, including the Basel Institute’s Collective Action team.

The EU Integrity Pacts project led by Transparency International included a specific preparatory phase. Tasks included conducting country surveys, adapting the concept to local needs and establishing country-specific baselines and goals.

6. Anticipating tricky situations

Anticipating dilemmas and issues before they happen will help you resolve them early on and with minimal disruption – or avoid them in the first place.

Typical issues include what happens when a member doesn’t reach the expected standards or “lets down” the initiative through bad behaviour.

In this case, for example, the Ukrainian Network of Integrity and Compliance put in place a wide range of tools to support such companies in their progress. In the worst-case scenario, the network has the right to exclude companies that do not comply with their voluntary commitments or progress in their action plans.

Other tricky situations to anticipate are what happens if a funding stream or partner disappear.

Things to think about

Of course, these are just examples of what other practitioners have found effective. It very much depends on the context of your initiative and what you’re trying to achieve. Here are a few general things to think about:

  • What political and economic factors affect incentives in your context?
  • How might international standards be applied to the local context?
  • How do you establish trust, responsibilities and expectations with your partners?
  • What do you need to plan and prepare?
  • Which tricky situations might arise and how will you resolve them?

If you want to talk over any of this, we’re happy to act as a sounding board. It’s our role under the Siemens Integrity Initiative to act as a free source of guidance and support to Collective Action initiatives. Contact Vanessa Hans.