How Collaborations Get off the Ground
The purpose of this activity is for participants to identify, articulate, and discuss the origins of the collaboration among participating organizations.
Collaborations are formed in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons. How and why individuals and organizations come together will have a major impact on the success of their shared work. Below we offer three examples of how a collaboration may originate.
1. A supervisor brings about the collaboration:
I was asked by the superintendent, when I worked for the [large city] public schools to coordinate a project called School-Based Management, which is basically participatory management where you devolve some of the decision-making to the school away from the central administration. I thought it was folly. But when your boss says you’re going to do something, you figure out how you’re going to make it work … I knew I didn’t have the knowledge or skill set about how you would help schools take on this kind of decision-making, because it wasn’t their skill set either. Administrators had largely been trained to be in control, not to share decision-making.
2. A foundation brings about the collaboration:
The XXX Foundation caused a marriage of five organizations and tried to manage it, [not one] of which had been prepared to be married to each other. But [we were] brought together for extremely good reasons.
3. The collaboration comes about via suggestion or word of mouth:
People said, “Why don’t you just partner with XXX organization?” And so we partnered; I wrote [a curriculum] for their organization and our staff did the training. And it worked out great.
Consider your own collaborative work.
-How have you been brought together with your partners?
-What are the overt reasons you have come to work together?
-Are there additional factors that are behind this collaborative relationship?
-Is there a history between the individuals or organizations involved in this collaboration?
-How might these various details impact the success of the collaborative work ahead?