Factors That Contribute To Successful Collaborations
The Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse (OPC) ( now known as Health Nexus) produced a tip sheet on “Dynamic Partnerships “in 1997 that provides reflections, references and resources about partnerships. It explains that “partnering with other organizations to support a common goal involves “an interdependence of elements along with increasing complexity that requires less competition and more crossing of boundaries and sectors”.
They identified eleven factors that contribute to successful partnerships and collaborations.
1. People: Organizations do not work together, people do – thus individual characteristics will be a factor in whether the collaborative is successful or not. Check out the “chemistry” between people and their level of commitment to the collaborative.
2. Vision: Create a shared vision and common goals that incorporate all of the members’ perspectives and interests, and identifies mutual needs that cannot be met by one organization alone.
3. Trust: Take some time to explore your common ground. “Trust is built through mutual respect for each person’s experience, knowledge and contribution. “
4. Time: Do not give in to the pressure for speed and action. Getting to know each other in order to developing a solid partnership takes time, as does planning and implementation.
5. Planning: Working together effectively requires a great deal of planning. All aspects of the collaborative, including purpose, function, decision-making process, the risks and benefits to each member and anticipated results needs to be considered, agreed upon and committed to (usually by signing a written agreement). Subsequently, every meeting, every workplan, every approach to a prospective member or funder, has to be planned.
6. Communication: There needs to be a transparent flow of information among members, and mechanisms for ensuring that all members are kept up-to-date on matters relating to the collaborative and have clear means of voicing concerns and suggestions.
7. Learning Together: Partnerships involve learning about each other, about the issues or needs that are being addressed, and about how to work together effectively.
8. Decision-Making: It is crucial that how decisions are made is agreed upon right at the start of the partnership and adhered to throughout its duration. Partners should also agree on a problem resolution process. Agreements regarding the investment of people, time and resources need to be negotiated and clearly understood by all partners.
9. Leadership: There are many options for leadership; e.g. elect a Chair or Co-Chairs, or establish different roles for different members. It may be formal or informal. Shared leadership can renew energy and increase commitment.
10. Technology: Electronic communication can enhance and support the work of the partnership by facilitating connections and opportunities for innovation. An assessment of current systems and technical capacities of each of the members is required before effective information and communications systems can be established.
11. Flexibility: As circumstances change, one or more members may not be able to contribute to the extent originally intended, or may not be able to remain involved at all. The remaining members will have to make adjustments accordingly.