The latest version of my book Achieving Collaborative Success is now freely available to read and download. Click on my picture to get it.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Examine the problem! I repeat, examine the problem!

Problem solving can be split into two parts: the first being to examine and evaluate the problem; the second being to identify solutions.

Taking longer over the first part, examining a problem and evaluating its context and nature, will help you make accurate judgements and decisions about the best way to solve it. 

Obvious? Perhaps so, but the following actually happened:

Those running an employment programme in the USA were dismayed and disappointed when the jobs created for long-term unemployed people from ethnic minorities failed to deliver the expected improvement in employment levels. A little more examination of the root causes of the unemployment within the relevant ethnic minorities would have revealed a lack of skills rather than jobs as the key problem to be addressed. The jobs had been created within the building industry; if you cannot work with bricks or wood you are not likely to secure a job!

So, examine the problem!

For some tools to help you examine and define your problems go to:

For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Focus upon newness

What new areas is your collaboration with competitors going to focus upon? What new services, products, audiences, innovations and ways of working is it going to seek out and exploit?

Competing oil companies regularly form alliances to explore and exploit new oil fields, create new technology or combine existing technology in new ways, or create new and improved processes for getting oil out of the ground and into people’s lives and work.

Fiercely competitive Biotechnology companies collaborated to explore and map the human genome. They are now doing the same thing for the Human Proteome.

Rival IT companies collaborate to find new ways of combining and integrating their various systems. Intel’s collaboration with its competitors to create the now taken for granted USB port is a prime example.

Focusing upon newness minimises the defensive mind-set created by focusing upon competitors well-established interests, activities and markets. It encourages competitors to band together and launch a combined offensive targeted at identifying and exploiting new and potentially lucrative opportunities, safe in the knowledge that their existing interests are unlikely to be threatened by those with which they are collaborating (at least for the duration of the current alliance).

By focusing upon newness and innovation a partnership increases the scope and richness of the activity going on within its area of interest and all those involved are likely to benefit from the abundance of opportunities this creates.

Partners will still be competing elsewhere, but those activities will be distant from the new focus of the collaboration and make instances of split loyalties the exception rather than the rule.


Tuesday 11 February 2014

Make evaluation public

One of the bravest and most challenging things a partnership can do is open itself up to public scrutiny. Creating a panel of clients or users of the partnership’s services and giving them the opportunity to visit partnership activities and meetings and then submit comments about what they see and hear can be a great lever for change and increased effectiveness.

For example, Aberdeen City Council has set up a Citizens’ Panel that can comment on the activities of the City’s Community Partnership. Members of this panel can access any part of the partnership’s activities and they are encouraged to report their findings to the main Partnership Board. In addition, representatives from the Citizen’s Panel attend the Partnership Board meetings, adding even greater transparency and accountability to the partnership’s processes and decision making.

Partnerships also need to be innovative in how they promote their services and encourage the public to contribute their comments. Access to online comment boards and novelties such as online and touch screen voting will capture people’s interest and encourage them to give their opinions. Arranging fun events and activities that showcase a partnership’s work will also encourage people to engage with a partnership and share their views about it. 

In order to go truly public, however, a partnership needs to reach physically into the areas where their work is carried out. Mobile services, information points and outreach staff can act as the spokes radiating from a partnership’s hub, reaching towards and touching the areas where the partnership does its work and gaining people’s comments at first hand.                         
For example, an initiative in Fife, Scotland, that wanted to evaluate the effects of regeneration upon health and wellbeing created pairings of local experts and residents. These became the spokes that communicated local views about the effects of regeneration back to the hub of the initiative.

For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition 

Sunday 9 February 2014

Bite-size pieces: avoid the carousel syndrome

Looking far and wide for potential partners can help you avoid one of the great enemies of creative partnership working: the 'Carousel Syndrome'.
This describes the situation where the same old faces turn up to every new partnership initiative set up to deal with a particular set of issues and/or the problems of a locality.
This can lead to the same old approaches and ideas being recycled into new contexts.
It is true that what has worked before might well work again but, without the energising and transforming contributions of new perspectives, second hand solutions are unlikely to provide completely effective and satisfactory answers to the new challenges faced by new partnerships.

Two ways to avoid the 'Carousel Syndrome' are to:
  • Create a continually updated database of potential partners and contributors that is always consulted before contacting the usual organisations.
  • Hold 'Scouting Meetings' regularly during the life of a partnership to identify and engage with new organisations that may need to become partners in the future.   

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Good practice in leading partnerships

Here is an interesting report from the Higher Education sector about good practice in leading partnerships:

Getting Smarter

One of the approaches mentioned is my "Nexus" or "Partnership Working Leadership Wheel" model. You can read all about it in my book "Achieving Collaborative Success", which you can download by clicking on my picture to your right. 

Saturday 1 February 2014

Collaboration and music come together - again!

Once again, my twin interests of music and collaboration come together. This time they have fused to create the 'Twtr Symphony'.

To find out about it, and the global collaboration it entails, click here: