Monday, March 11, 2013

Let's Join Hands: Accomplish More Through Collaboration!

Posted by: Yvette Grimes, Mar. 11, 2013 
Photo of LEGO men working together on a project
Flickr user Lollyman, Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0
You probably heard of the saying “two is better than one." Any manager can tell you that this applies to not just to individuals, but to organizations as well. Government agencies can realize benefits from collaboration, with other agencies, nonprofits, private sector businesses, or even with individuals. Collaboration helps agencies, and federal communicators, combine and maximize their resources while reaching their target audience. Here are some examples of federal collaboration in action:

  • Many of the award winning activities in the HHSinnovates competition involve two agencies or offices partnering to accomplish innovative goals. For example, NIH and CDC collaborated with Home Box Office (HBO), Institute of Medicine, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente on a health education campaign. Read other stories of HHSinnovates award winners for inspiring stories of collaboration.
  • FEMA has gotten great press for its effort to crowdsource disaster readiness. What is crowdsourcing but collaboration? The FEMA challenge invited "prepare our communities before disaster strikes and how the government can support community-based activities to help everyone be more prepared." Read more about the winner, Map Your Neighborhood.

What exactly is collaboration?

Let's keep the definition simple: Collaboration is working together with organizations or individuals that share your interests and or mission.  

Here are 4 tips to collaborate and build great collaboration relationships:

1. Research and identify potential partners.

There are various ways to find potential partners to collaborate that share your interests or mission. These ways might include personal networks, but they could also include internet research and special events or conferences.

2. Develop a relationship.

Have formal and informal meetings, attend special functions, call, email, and tweet.  Discuss how the relationship can benefit all involved.

3. Communicate effectively.

Communication with partners and stakeholders is the key to maintain relationships. Keep stakeholders in the loop, maintain an ongoing dialogue about your shared activities, and be sure you have partners priorities and goals in mind - they might have shifted.

4. Have conflict plan.

Smooth sailing is great, however there is no guarantee that will happen all the time. Who is the key person to deal with should problems arise? What are the steps to resolve the issue?

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