Here at the Lasting Difference we recognise the importance of collaboration as an activity which supports organisational sustainability. One of the indicators in our Lasting Difference toolkit focuses on this very point ‘Collaboration helps us harness resources and achieve things we couldn’t do alone.’ Collaboration is a powerful organisational approach, and one probably best not left to chance.
Why do we chose to collaborate with other organisations? It might be that we are trying to share knowledge, increase our innovative capacity or to improve relationships with other partner organisations. The reasons may be varied, but when developing a collaborative approach it is essential to have in place a culture of openness to ensure its best chance of success.
So it is always welcome to see useful and accessible resources being produced which support organisations to develop their approaches to collaboration. For social enterprises and the third sector the team at P4P: Partnership for Procurement, have produced a Collaboration Toolkit which gives detailed guidance to support organisations to self-assess their attitudes, capability and possibilities for collaborative working. It can also be used as a quick ‘go to’ guide to collaboration. The process of collaborative working is broken down helpfully into clear stages so that organisations can first establish the collaborative environment before preparing, and then delivering, their project.
Taking a considered approach to collaborative working can help to minimise any risks inherent in the process. Undertaking collaborative activities without a clear long-term vision can lead to the possibility of mission drift or even challenges around decision making. The benefits, however, make collaboration a worthwhile endeavour. Collaboration can allow organisations to have a stronger voice, it can lead to increased mutual support, and it can reduce the risks of tackling a project alone. Ultimately these will support an organisation’s capacity for sustainability and allow organisations to better meet the needs of those using its services. Ask both what you hope to achieve by collaborating with another organisation and check that it fits with your strategic vision. Careful assessment of collaborative readiness at the outset can allow organisations to reap the rewards.
P4P: Partnership for Procurement