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WHAT DOES COLLABORATION LOOK LIKE?

The purpose of collaboration is to: Increase capacity, communication, and efficiency while improving outcomes.


Collaboration can be found almost anywhere.  Some of the roots of collaboration are found in natural social skills developed by children through play.  When these lessons are learned in childhood, we learn that together, we can accomplish more than we can usually accomplish alone.


Collaboration can be found in teams, councils, boards, businesses, neighborhoods, committees, families, marriages, churches, government, et, etc.  The lack of collaboration can be found in those same places.


Collaboration can almost never be developed through compulsory means.  Collaboration is almost always voluntary, based upon one or more common goals, values, needs, ideals, vision, or interest...and is almost always built upon good will, using skill and correct principles.  Collaboration can be built between two or more people, organizations, or groups working on a common goals or towards a common purpose.  Collaboration can grow out of passion, anger, energy, frustration, fear, or love; however, the end products or products will be better and more positive, when associated with positive energy and more generalized benefit and good.

Sometimes collaboration includes people who may view the world from very opposing points of view, and yet have come together for a greater good.

Collaboration is the sharing of vision, mission, power, resources, and goals.


ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.


Collaboration comes in many shapes, sizes, and of varying duration.  It may not make sense to develop a broad in-depth collaboration when a short term coordinated effort is all that is needed and more practical for the circumstances.  For example: a coordinated partnership may be the most effective and practical way for two or more organizations to come together for a joint project or grant.  In this scenario, each organization may have clear responsibility for a specific aspect or a project, without joint management of the whole project.  Collaborations often develop in stages which may include:


1. COMPETITION     Competition channeled and in the right situation can help groups or individuals stretch themselves and excel.  For example, true, clean, competition without corruption is important in many sport and free market situations.  This type of competition can benefit everyone, has it has historically in many situations.  However; there must be a balance between competition and cooperation and at times even true collaboration.


2. NETWORKING/COMMUNICATION     As information begins to be shared and communication increases, it benefits everyone.  There may be more of an interest in gaining information than sharing information at this stage.  Trust will develop as more information and resources are shared for the benefit of all.    


3. COOPERATION/COORDINATION    Information sharing becomes more formalized with structure and agreements; though individual interests are maintained.  More resources are shared and duplication is limited.  Coordination: formalized sharing of resources, information, and some common goals.  


4. COORDINATION/PARTNERSHIP     Resources are brought together to create, discover, or access new resources.  The management of resources is shared to a greater extent, becoming more mutually beneficial, increasing resource capacity for everyone.  This is a more formal and structured relationship with signed agreements.  In many good partnerships a partner is as concerned for the success of everyone else involved in the partnership as they are for their own.  


5. COALITION          Leadership and decision making is shared by all through a direct democratic or an indirect representative process.  Decision making is formalized and clear, as is communication.  More resources are developed, created, and discovered for the benefit of everyone in the coalition.  (This stage may not be as applicable in the corporate/business sector.)  


6. COLLABORATION     A written vision and mission are shared by everyone within the collaboration.  Programs, information, resources, and projects are sometimes interdependent.  Communication is very clear and open.  Trust and relationships are strong.  Members have a strong sense of accomplishment, belonging, purpose, and responsibility.  Individuals are accountable to each other.  Goals are clearly defined and often met.  Shared developed, and discovered resources are significantly amplified through the collaborative process.  Resources are shared within the collaboration and often outside the collaboration with everyone working to develop greater collaboration and capacity for all.

COLLABORATION: SHARED VISION, MISSION, POWER, RESOURCES, AND GOALS.





"People live in communities.  But the real importance of "living in community" is that people - and groups of people - develop the ways and means to care for each other, to nurture the talents and leadership that enhance the quality of community life, and to tackle the problems that threaten the community and the opportunities which can help it.  When people do these things, communities become healthy, when they do not, communities deteriorate.  Communities that have the ways and means to undertake challenges demonstrate "capacity".


Without capacity, communities are merely collections of individuals acting without concern for the common good; they are without the necessary ingredients required to develop a healthier community.  Communities without capacity really are not communities in any meaningful sense, but have given way to negative conditions like apathy, poverty or ineptitude.


MEASURING COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING (ASPEN INSTITUTE, 1996)


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