In your workplace, do you ever feel like you’re barreling down a busy highway at warp speed or rounding the curve of a roundabout again and again — doing what’s easiest, doing what you’ve always done in the way you’ve always done it or, to put it another way, staying in your lane?
It’s human nature to do things this way. And organizations, comprised of humans, often become very entrenched in “the way it’s always been” and afraid of the risks and costs and change involved with trying something new. If you’re happy with your historic outcomes and you want those results to continue, this could be an okay strategy.
But if you want to achieve something different, accomplish something bigger and achieve true systems change, collaboration might be a way for you to convince your organization to make a lane change.
Collaboration, as defined by Karen Ray at this week’s MCF program “Collaborating for Change” is a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more organizations to achieve results they are more likely to achieve together than alone.
Collaboration is more intense than cooperation or coordination: it’s riskier and possibly more rewarding too. Collaboration isn’t necessarily the best way to achieve a goal. Instead it’s one spot on the spectrum of building alliances with other organizations to accomplish goals that benefit the community.
The four phases of alliance as defined by Ray are as follows:
- Cooperation: Organizations share information and are more informed about each other.
- Coordination: Organizations execute tasks together.
- Collaboration: Organizations make changes to infrastructure and systems.
- Consolidation: Organizations unite specific functions or parts of different agencies.
Ray believes that organizations that haven’t cooperated before will have difficulty coordinating. And organizations that haven’t coordinated will have problems collaborating. It’s a spectrum of intensity.
Grantmakers interested in these discussions about collaboration will want to join MCF and Karen Ray on June 22 for “Funder Collaboratives: Lessons Learned.” This session (open to all grantmakers and part of MCF’s Effective Grantmaking Series) will involve funders from two large Minnesota collaboratives: Heading Home Minnesota and Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. They will discuss successes and learning opportunities that arose from their collaborative work.
- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate