Understanding Collaboration

1.B Map the Stages in the Life of a Collaboration

Collaborations evolve over time from the first stages of exploration of potential partners and outcomes, through the formative stages, when partners formalize their relationships and implement and achieve outcomes, to the final stage of transformation or dissolution. Because they rarely follow a neat, linear path, they require a continuous investment of time to negotiate and revitalize the efforts.

What kind of commitment should we make to the development process of a collaboration?
Think about the creation and nurturing of a collaboration as a continuous circle of negotiation, commitment, implementation and assessment. Understanding the dynamic nature of collaboration will help you prepare more effectively and generate more open and knowledgeable conversations with your colleagues and Board members.
How will the collaboration evolve through its life cycle?
Collaborations evolve through various unique stages. If you understand the characteristics of these stages you can find the right tools, supports, expertise and resources you’ll need to make each stage work effectively. You may also discover that your collaboration is well underway before you’ve built the proper foundations.
Journey through the Stages of Collaboration — Development of a Network
Funding cutbacks prompted a group of like-minded community service organizations across Ontario to join forces. In the early stages of their collaboration, partners shared information and strategies for protecting their mandates. Over time they started collaborating on smaller joint projects, which then led to larger, multi-year, multisite initiatives. As it evolved, the collaboration remained intentionally informal and volunteer-led to stay nimble. Partners developed effective systems for decision- making and built trust and mutual accountability. After 10 years, the partners formally incorporated as a nonprofit network using many of the same collaboration mechanisms and protocols already in place.
Journey through the Stages of Collaboration — The Power of One Collaboration Leader

An inspiring talk challenged one leader to ramp up her efforts to make a difference in her community. She started by bringing together a small group of trusted community champions one Saturday morning to work with her to share her passion for positive change. That early meeting resulted in a cascade of initiatives, each one aimed at addressing a different issue in the community and mobilizing significant community assets and people across sectors and neighbourhoods. A number of the collaboration initiatives were spun off to operate independently, or came to a natural end after achieving their goals.