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Tuesday 5 January 2016

Collaborative insights from Canada

Here is a very interesting collaborative working model and case study from the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment(CPCHE):

Collaborative Working Model and Case Study from CPCHE

Here is a down loadable version: Collaborative Working Model and Case Study from CPCHE.pdf

The model and its illustration through the case study provide many useful insights and points of good practice for those needing to work collaboratively with organisations from diverse sectors.

For me, the following two things are particularly significant:

The model enthusiastically embraces the idea of emergence. Identifying what the above article calls 'magnetic attractors' (emerging opportunities to quicken and further a partnership's work) and placing them alongside the purpose and direction defining high level goals of a partnership encourages partners to look out for emerging opportunities as well as upwards towards their ongoing aspirations. This makes a partnership more likely spot and exploit valuable opportunities as and when they appear. Also, encouraging a flexible structure and the sharing and spreading of leadership roles facilitates the timely emergence of leaders who possess valuable and urgently needed skills, experience, enthusiasm and energy.  

The model explicitly seeks to manage and balance power dynamics within a partnership. Separating the administrative and process management functions from the body of a partnership and giving them to a third party avoids one partner or a small clique of partners gaining (or being perceived to gain) control of some key levers of influence. Gaining such control would cause an unnecessary power imbalance between partners and lead to increasingly turbulent relationships and, eventually, some very hard to shift resentments.         

Also, I feel the following two things are essential to the model being effectively implemented:

The model must be given enough time to work. As the above article makes clear, some partners will need significant support and resources to build their capability, achieve their potential and contribute effectively to a partnership's activity and goals.        

The 'space between' partners mentioned in the article needs to be supported not only by technology but also by a network of 'magnetised brokers'. The article identifies the Internet, email and other forms of information technology as being vital to managing this 'space between' effectively. It also highlights the importance of having a senior person (an Executive Director) skilled in leading collaboratively and brokering and managing relationships play a prominent role within the third party organisation responsible for a partnership's administrative support and organisational processes. 

In addition, I believe it is important to identify and develop 'magnetised brokers' within the system of a partnership who can support and supplement the work of the third party Executive Director. As well as possessing good collaborative working skills, these people will need to possess sought after knowledge, skills, expertise and experience that will attract partners, potential partners and other contributors and interested parties. Once attracted, these various parties can then be easily and quickly introduced to each other (through the system of brokers clustered around the third party Executive Director) and encouraged to join-up and collaborate as and when required.

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