Signs of Absence of Trust
Here are 10 examples of “water cooler conversations” that may signal trust is lacking in your collaboration:
Building Bridges Across Cultures
The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and a Muslim community association established a mutual commitment to bridge cultural barriers and improve childrens’ safety. Starting with specific case consultations, the partners identified cultural risk factors and CAS policies and procedures that were resulting in unexpected and unwanted results. As trust grew, the CAS reached out to work collaboratively on active cases. Today the two organizations have a formal protocol of understanding and are both involved from the start on all relevant cases. The model has been so successful it is now being replicated in other regions.
Negotiating Power Dynamics
When a small environmental group began to work with a large school board on greening school spaces, conflicts led them to acknowledge and negotiate some challenging power dynamics. Over time as divergent points of view were negotiated, the partners learned to “speak each other’s language” and to focus on their mutual interests. This required strong collaboration leadership, an openness to new perspectives and ideas, and faith that the relationship would withstand the conflict. When the school board informed their partner that they would discontinue the collaboration and provide the services in house instead, the leaders of the environmental group stood firm. They understood the important assets they brought to the collaboration, knew that their expertise could not be easily replaced, and felt comfortable making their position clear to the Board. In the end, the Board recognized the contributions that each partner brought, and the collaboration continued with a new understanding of power and equity.
Bridging Distance with the Help of Technology
Partners in a rural community health collaboration identified that geographic distance was a critical barrier to success. The Steering Committee invested in online conferencing for virtual meetings so that working group members could phone in from their homes or offices and electronically shape agendas, view documents, and discuss their work. They used a free file sharing system so that documents didn’t get lost in their e-mails, and they could receive e-mail prompts when a new resource was uploaded to the platform. When they needed to consult with other community members in their research efforts, they used a survey software that provided enough functionality to get the information they needed.
Virtual Networking- Making the Most of Scarce Resources
How does an incorporated network with very limited resources and a virtual office manage to collaborate, engage and provide services to a cluster of members located in regions across Ontario? One organization has been tackling this issue by using teleconferences for regional meetings, SKYPE for individual or group member consultations, and a password-protected area of the website with resources and tips that members want to share with one another. The network is aiming to have their next provincial AGM via teleconference, and intends to change their by-laws to allow this to happen. Capacity building is being managed through a cost effective alternative to a webinar whereby slideshow presentations can be viewed by members through the website and followed up with a phone consultation. Recognizing that younger network members are already using social media, they are beginning to use Facebook to keep members informed.