This is not a definition but some thoughts on group process and supportive theory...Collaboration can be as casual as a periodic link in reference to offers of support for a rational but non specific goal, like eradicating poverty. A more directed, but not necessarily more effective way is to state a specific measurable objective, divide the required tasks into task packages and distribute them to the participants.
Another approach (and my favorite) is to assemble a team with the varietal requisite skills in multidisciplinary dimensions with cross overs and generalists and (very important) one party with creative ignorance. Posit a goal or problem and let the group organize itself and pursue the objective... some requirements. Joining the group is optional ... following up and executing you your commitments is NOT. Those who fail to deliver promised accomplishments are asked to leave. Otherwise... all talk only a few work and feel set upon and they *the productive ones"... will not come back next time.
teams who want to develop a specific replicable franchise and competence fit to do that - which I know you all are a world leading attractor of
media in the widest sense of meetings, maps linking networks that reward collaboration, open sourcing , put people who are exponentialing end poverty on the same maps whichever local context they want to help first - we try to help a bit at http://yunus1000.com to enable 10000 youth to be this "yes we can " wave
funders (advised by community accounting professionals) including community owned banks who wish to engage the poor in develping the world and franchise social buisness governed models or others that ensure that health and wealth is invested back into communities not just accidentally siphoned off to wll street
in 10 years of searching collaboration networks I have found clubs of people good at networking at one level but who haven't had a clue they need the other levels too
so far its only true microcredit bankers that seem to invite networks to connect these levels - or of course the most savvy of billionaire philanthropists if anyone is lucky enough to be trusted to be in-network of such a collaboration world changemaker
Your prodigal collaborator and old friend returns.
Jerry has insightfully drawn us to the "human individual" dimensions that, in my view, remain either completely unaddressed or taken for granted when people enroll into communities. While I agree and support the view that one of the key purposes of collaborating/investing is to ensure that commitments are honoured, tying it back with the powerful idea -
'assemble a team with the varietal requisite skills in multidisciplinary dimensions with cross overs and generalists and (very important) one party with creative ignorance. Posit a goal or problem and let the group organize itself and pursue the objective... some requirements' -
means to allow the community to 'flow' into collaboration mode without the need for moderating or directing. I believe I am not disagreeing with you Jerry, I'm only trying to add another piece of clarity from my perspective - call it my creative ignorance in context of this discussion.
In the context of defining collaboration, let me share the "Indian way". Machines cannot collaborate, only humans can. The mechanistic worldview has brought us to a point where everything is sought to be defined as rules thereby throwing up a need to 'monitor and control'. We now know that human interactions ought not be directed. The current global crisis casts a dark shadow on the future of business and bears out my point. Consequently, collaboration becomes more a heart thing than a mind thing. The Indian way of collaboration, at a meta level and in a simplistic sense, is founded on two simple intertwinings - inclusion and tolerance.
If we now try to address the "human dimension", it brings us to a simple insight - and therefore urges us to address how to influence meaningful collaboration - "building non-threatening, sustainable relationships are the first cornerstones that may or may not result in material gain". Getting to unconditional trust will need time, effort and mutual respect inclusively. Key to this is tolerance for all types of cultural and individual communication styles, content, ideas, philosophies ... learning to 'see' between the lines.
excellent stuff sunil - this is a bit of an aside but illustrates collaboration networking's possibilities over many years - there's a chance that a philantropist committed to social business mapping (since meeting Yunus at Clinton Global) will ask jerry to flow his team's process engineering talents to end poverty by helping develop cashewnuts as a world class business out of africa -sunil, did you by any chance keep in touch with Prem Kumar - around 2002 he was the first person I had ever met who had spent his life connecting collaboration villages (about 100 involving 100000 poor people's sustainability) - they had just identified a vision for their first worldclass export market - and it was cashews! I recall he was hoping to collaborate with knowledge from other countries including parts of old USSR in terms of manufacturing processes etc but I dont know how this case has evolved
Jerry, your suggestion about measurable objectives deserves much more attention than it has hitherto drawn. It is probably the missing link between passion and action. Sustaining passion requires feedback milestones that tell me how I'm doing, both for the credibility of the initiative as well as to show a level of collaborative progress that keeps everybody motivated to doing more.
Take for example, the majority of the NGOs that operate primarily fuelling themselves with individual passion. Most of those I have come across in India - an this is an unverified overgeneralisation - evangelise profit as being a bad word. This, in my view, is the best and most credible way to sidestep taking responsibility beyond their passion. It is a convenient use of the society's ethical/moral veil of perception to avoid the overall commitment to the social issue they aim to mitigate. Therefore their objectives are stated at such meta levels - if they ever are, beyond the request-for-grant proposals - that the objectives can never be measured as they go along. Jerry's 'process' can not only discipline their endeavours but also break up the larger objectives into achievable (chewable?) packages to measure direction and progress in a far more credible mould.
My two cents here ...
BTW I have not connected with Prem Kumar but I do seem to recall you mentioning him in that timeframe.
Prem Kumar, M. S. R.
Position Post Graduate in Sociology. Research scholar (PhD) on Future of NGOs in sustainable Development and Environment; Member of various national, international agencies relating to NGOs; Working as Executive Secretary of YCO since 1981.
Promoted different integrated water resources development and management programmes in sarada river basin of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh
Working with 18000 poor families; Won the prestigious Jalamitra award of Government of Andhra Pradesh in 2003