Self-interest inventory


To clarify each partner’s self-interest so that everyone stays “in the game” with their self-interest satisfied, even as you engage your mutual interest in making a change.

What’s the Result?

By unearthing, clarifying and making space for the self-interest of your partner and your partner’s organization, you will have incorporated another key foundational building block to ensure collaborative success.  After completing this exercise, you and your partner will have a clearer understanding of each other’s self-interest, giving you a guide to what needs to be incorporated into the operations and work of your partnership in order to satisfy all partners. Better understanding and acceptance of partner self-interest will also help to solidify and strengthen your mutual interest. Acknowledging the “intersection” of these two powerful things will create a stronger and more sustainable pathway for your partnership.

Materials: Pen and paper

Time: 45 Minutes

Part I:  Inventorying Self-Interest

Use the “self-interest” inventory sheet below to record the self-interest of the key stakeholders who matter for your partnership’s success. That includes you!

Step 1:  Checking in With Your Stakeholders

  • Schedule meetings with the key stakeholders in your organization. See Error! Reference source not found. for support in identifying your stakeholders. Use the “inventory” sheet to record their self-interest. 
  • Make sure you set up these conversations for success with as much information as you can.  Be clear upfront about the partnership’s purpose; specifics (who you’re working with, your target populations, etc.) 
  • Try to “hear” where there may be personal as well as organizational self-interests.  Does your executive director want more exposure for the organization as a result of being in the partnership?  Does your partner need to meet contractual goals?

Step 2.  Check-in with Yourself

  • Just as with others, make time to think through your own personal and organizational self-interest in the partnership work.  Do you need to be recognized in your organization in a different way?  Will something important change for you if you take on this work?  The more honest you can be, the better.
  • Think through how you could address both your own and others’ self-interests.  Make some notes and sum-up actionable items to bring to your partner.

Step 3:  Bringing it Back to Your Partner

  • Share what you’ve learned and the possible strategies you might use.
  • Take this time to re-visit your purpose with a quick exercise:


  • Put your self-interest out on the table
  • Remember what you need, what your organization needs
  • Look at your vision
  • Map out the “intersections” – the corners where your roads meet and/or you can see your roads crossing and overlapping, even while you hold your self-interest.  This is your mutual interest. Talk about it.
  • Make a plan for satisfying everyone’s self-interest to the best of your ability while you pursue your mutual interest and purpose.  Include commitments, permissions, and actions.

Stakeholder Inventory

Type of Stakeholder e.g. ED, Parent Name of Stakeholder Their Self-Interest Possible Action Items to get to mutual interest