Get information on every U.S. Foundation with one search in FDO Quick Start. It’s free to register!  
Featured Jobs

 

Blog

Cohesive Collaborations: What They Are and What They Are Not (Part 2)


In Part 1, I described three less-than-ideal collaborations: CINOs (Collaborations in Name Only), the Dysfunction Junction Collaboration, and the Habitual Collaboration.
 
The fourth and ideal type is the Cohesive Collaboration, which has the following characteristics.

 

Cohesive Collaborations handle dissent.
 
Cohesive Collaborations may or may not have less conflict than dysfunctional collaborations. What separates them from the pack is how they handle conflict.
 
We tend to gravitate toward others similar to ourselves. No surprise here. However, too many collaborations make no effort to include different perspectives. They make decisions on the assumption that they have heard enough opinions.
 
This method is akin to “inside the Beltway” thinking, where politicians decide what sounds good in Washington D.C., but they have not consulted with anyone outside of Washington.
 
Heed the advice of the ancient Greek philosopher Antisthenes: “Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.”
 
Cohesive Collaborations have a mix of big thinkers and worker bees.
 
Cohesive Collaborations need big thinkers who push the group to evolve and become more transformative than what it might be otherwise. You also need worker bees who excel at translating the group's vision into reality.
 
Most of us are both risk takers and risk averse, but we tend to have an inherent preference for one over the other. Cohesive Collaborations have a greater share of people in roles for which they are suited.
 
Each role can have downsides. Big thinkers are good at winning people over but are often not good with details. If left unchecked, worker bees can get irritated too easily with the big thinkers. They may resent having to put into practice big ideas that sound good in theory but are messy in reality. 
 
The point is not to avoid this type of conflict. Work through it. If there is too little conflict, chances are the collaboration has some work to do to be a Cohesive Collaboration.
 
Cohesive Collaborations get the right leaders at the right times.
 
Your collaboration may need one type of leader at the beginning of the collaborative, such as a go-getter who can galvanize people.
 
However, once the project is well underway, your Cohesive Collaboration may need a leader who is better suited to managing an existing group than starting a new one from scratch. Most leaders can start a new collaboration or manage a long-standing one. Few excel at both.
 
Cohesive Collaborations inspire loyalty.
 
Members of Cohesive Collaborations develop a certain sense of loyalty to the collaboration. The collaboration is not something they participate in because a grant requires it. They see the value of the collaboration, and may even feel almost a strong sense of allegiance to the collaboration as they do to their employer. 
 
Cohesive Collaborations also recognize the contributions of its individual members and individual organizations. If you fail to do this, you do so at your peril. For example, the collaboration mentioned in Part 1 received media attention. One of the most visible founders of the collaborative was featured in an article. However, this person gave no credit to anyone else who contributed to the cause. I watched the 5-minute news video included with the online article and, again, no mention of the team that was helping him with this cause.
 
Another member of the collaboration posted a comment to the online article, tactfully mentioning this was a group effort involving X number of people. However, too little, too late: the damage was done.
 
A little bit of acknowledgment goes a long way to maintaining a Cohesive Collaboration.
 
To what lengths will you go to create a Cohesive Collaboration?
 
 
Bruce Ripley is the grant writer for a nonprofit organization in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky as well as a freelance writer and consultant. 

 
 

Comments

There have been no comments made on this article. Why not be the first and add your own comment using the form below.

Leave a comment

Please complete the form below to submit a comment on this article. A valid email address is required to submit a comment though it will not be displayed on the site.

HTML has been disabled but if you wish to add any hyperlinks or text formatting you can use any of the following codes: [B]bold text[/B], [I]italic text[/I], [U]underlined text[/U], [S]strike through text[/S], [URL]http://www.yourlink.com[/URL], [URL=http//www.yourlink.com]your text[/URL]