When it comes to working together, the collaborative approach lends itself particularly well to small-scale partnerships of two, three or possibly more…
Whatever the number, the key is that all collaborating parties have an active stake in the idea, the development and delivery process, and the success of the venture.
Small collaborations do not face the challenges of larger organisational partnerships*, which are often hampered by complexity. If something isn’t working it can be a complicated business finding the root cause. More often, the effects show long before the cause becomes clear.
Things that make it tough for large-scale or multi-agency partnerships include;
- Competing and/or hidden agendas
- Mismatched aims, objectives or motivations
- Dilution of purpose, particularly where active involvement in the process is limited to a few
- Incompatible processes (IT, communications, systems, policies, procedures)
- The policy practice gap, where words on paper don’t match up with what happens on the ground, in practice
- There is often a power imbalance between partners that can undermine and conflict with the collaborative intention.
And large organisations often default (via the legal department) to the “cover our ass” approach when the chips are down.
Small collaborations are no guarantee of success, but they do provide ideal conditions, as control over what happens next sits “within the room”.
This includes the ability to work through and overcome challenges, as it is this very process that often cements the collaborative relationship.
After all, the depth, quality and durability of any relationship can best be measured by how constructively it works through difficulties, resolves conflict, and moves on and up…
*Look out for a future blog expanding on the topic of large organisational partnerships
With the able editing assistance of Sahara Choudhury