(Part of a Newsletter series authored by WetheP colleagues).
We hear this word so much that it feels like a cliché.
It's the savvy thing to say, but how many of us actually practice it? Do we want to work together to benefit our own agendas? Or do we REALLY want to collaborate in the truest sense of the word? I think it is a bit of both.
The process of collaboration can be complex - more than just coming together and falling in line with each other. It is a process of untangling and aligning.
Untangling mission, purpose, interest, goals, styles, and approaches. And then aligning them in such a way that we are working in concert with each other, so that it's mutually beneficial for all parties. Any coalition or consensus building requires some degree of this. And the starting point for each stakeholder is one's own self-serving agenda.
Self-Motivation In order to be motivated we need to be serving some of our own needs. Moreover, when our needs are connected with other needs, and we can join forces with another group, we are stronger and more powerful. So there is minimal compromise - and self-interest drives us, on behalf of all members.
For example, in my community work, I need to be collaborative to accomplish any aspect of my agenda.
It suits my purpose, even as it strengthens a partner. At The Youth Legacy Foundation (YLF), my primary method of operation is connecting with other groups to advance my mission. My organization doesn't have nearly enough capacity to fulfill its goals independently or in isolation. And even if it did, it would be inefficient to try to reinvent the wheel. So I find commonality and shared vision with others, and offer support.
Bridget Siljander speaks with WetheP's Andrea Grazzini about her Personal Challenges and Public Impact
Yes, I give, not take. I volunteer for other groups to support a goal that my organization also holds. That’s how YLF helped pass Safe and Supportive Schools legislation in Minnesota last Spring. YLF promoted youth engagement in the Arc Greater Twin Cities Self-Advocacy Committee, created a public service announcement, assisted with hosting a job fair for students with disabilities. And so on.
There have been occasions where we were the primary lead on an activity. But even then all involved some level of collaboration.
Everyone Wins If you want to get things done, you really need to collaborate. It can be challenging and messy. But with the best of intentions and transparency, everyone can win at the end of the day. And everyone can walk away feeling good about it. People will be more open to it, more optimistic about its potential to achieve its shared purpose, and opportunities will expand for all.
WetheP is a great resource for collaborative activities and pursuits. I've learned and benefited from the tools and information it offers for community advocates and leaders. It has strengthened me as a collaborative agent.
Together, we can build a culture of collaboration that breeds more of the spirit we want and need to perpetuate.