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Wednesday 19 June 2019

Secrets of successful collaboration: 20. encourage self-governing rules to emerge from within collaborations

The mutual trust and interdependence essential to developing meta-relationships can also be encouraged by creating an environment where partners rely on and encourage each other to act appropriately. Partners can create this environment by resisting externally imposed and policed rules and agreeing and implementing self-generated and self-governing rules.

All collaborative initiatives need rules to govern their activities and the behaviour of their partners. If these rules are imposed and policed by external agencies, they can hinder progress. This is because rules imposed from outside a collaboration remove significant responsibilities from partners: they disempower partners. If rules are generated and policed from within a collaboration, they are likely to support progress. This is because rules generated from within a collaboration give responsibilities to partners: they empower partners. These responsibilities include two of great significance: responsibility for personal behaviour, and responsibility for developing relationships with others.

The effects of this shifting of responsibility are clearly illustrated by this example from Nepal. Here, government authorities imposed rules for managing forest resources upon the people who lived in the forests. Responsibility for the management of forest resources having been removed from the local population, an "every person for themselves" attitude emerged that endangered forest resources and frayed and cut relationships between government representatives and local people (and between the local people themselves).

Later, the government authorities having realised their mistake, the people who lived in the forests were invited to create their own rules for managing forest resources. Responsibility for managing forest resources having been placed upon the local population, a "we're all in this together attitude" emerged that safeguarded forest resources and encouraged local people and government authorities to form mutually beneficial and interdependent relationships; collaborative meta-relationships had begun to develop between government representatives and local people, and between the local people themselves.

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