Three things immediately stood out for me:
- There was enthusiastic support for the initiative from the senior, high profile leaders of the partner agencies and groups involved. In the case of the police chief this enthusiasm was clearly targeted at welcoming not only engagement but also even greater transparency.
- The point was clearly made that the issues (in this case those of mental health), directly affected everyone involved in the collaboration, including those serving in the police.
- The importance of the collaboration was emphasised through sharing stories and experiences from those who had suffered as a result of mental health issues.
These three actions sort to not only gain people's understanding and involvement but also create empathy and enthusiasm for what many people find a difficult area to acknowledge and discuss.
In addition, the collaboration also:
- Got things off to a strong start with a high profile event involving all partners.
- Committed to creating a shared space for data and information that all partners could access.
- Identified and acknowledged existing good practice and emphasised the importance of sharing it, adding to it and encouraging its use.
- Emphasised the importance of researching the current situation and measuring the impact of mental health issues upon police activity and time.
These four actions, together with the first three described above, helped build strong foundations upon which the new collaboration could be built.
Anyone deciding upon the first steps of a collaborative initiative will find them useful to consider.
For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition