Working Better Together: Resolving Collaboration & Partnership Issues





Can't do it alone
Recognizing that the issue(s) crosses the boundaries of several organizations
Listen and document how issue affects different organizations in different ways

Conduct an invitation conversation

Accepting a distributed solution
Recognizing knowledge is distributed

Recognizing resources are distributed

Recognizing mandates/ or authority is distributed

Identifying who needs to be involved and what they might contribute

Governance becomes distributed  - no one is in control

Engage potential partners and stakeholders & bring them to table Conduct posibility conversation & explore nature of issue & possible futures

Engage in relationship building

Establish ground rules necessary for everyone to participate - purpose, principles, people, concepts, structures & practices

Consider who to include: Who has power to make it happen? Who can stop it? Who has relevant knowledge? Who is impacted or at risk from decisions that might be made?

Partners go public with their commitment to work together

Build &
Maintain Trust

Secure an initial basis of trust
Reduce or eliminate entry and exit barriers
Understand the risks & rewards for each participating partner

Do your due diligence but understand the 'person' you'll be working with. That may mean spending some time together.

What 'hooks' can be offered? Potential benefits identified

Need to re-affirm relationships of trust Share respective impacts of issue

Meet periodically to confirm shared goals & understandings and confirm any changed organizational operating contexts. The more  interdependent you are, the more frequent should be these meetings.

Ongoing sharing of organizational knowledge and insights

Need to satisfy contingent cooperation
Establish mechanisms for transparency & information flow. Define progress measures of both the results of your work and how you are together.

Establish practical, achieveable targets for each partner

Create governance structure

Prepare a distributed governance model

Collective Learning
Establish common knowledge base
Preparation of state of issue review, cases, needs assessment or studies. Determine what information partners require to make a decision.

How are stakeholders contributing to the status quo of the issue?

What metaphors / frames are in use by stakeholders?

Can these frames be reconciled?

Use your work together as a learning tool. Start with small things to build confidence in your mutual understanding & your relative abilities.

Engage in meaning making
Enagage in facilitated sessions, where interpretation of study results done jointly

Establish relevance and priorities

Establish priorities by consensus

Collective Decision Making
Establish how collective decisions will be made among partners
Consensus is best, although a backup alternative should be established in case consensus is not achievable

Establish how will collective decisions be transferred to home organizations?

Addressing multiple accountabilities
Establish the relastionship between the collaborative body and participating organizations

Who is accountable to whom and how?

Is decision making authority sufficiently delegated?

Identifying power imbalances

There is no such thing as 'almost equal'. Mitigate any inequalities

Collective Action
Address free-rider tendency
Establish champions for horizontal communication

Establish regular feedback mechanisms for exchanging information

Establish partner commitments
Publicize commitment

Ongoing partner management

Identify partner benefits/ value added from joint work

Recognize achievements

Monitoring & Evaluation
Identify assessment and evaluation mechanisms Prepare at minimum a report annually and at end of project and, if possible, using of third party evaluators

Re-evaluate your environment and project's relevance to it

Evaluate the continued need for collective action -- is the project still needed, can it be done by others, should it be done by others, can we afford it, can it be spun off?

Based on Garratt's model of a learning board, the above can be summarized into a Learning Model of Partnership Governance as depicted below:



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