Collaboration - Building "Networks that Work" to become more effective
Government leaders around the world are finding that collaboration is required in order to meet mandates, do more with
less, make government more efficient and effective and to continue to improve how government services are delivered to constituents.
For example, how will the 14 newly-designated US Federal cross-agency priority goal leaders organize to achieve the goals
they have committed to accomplish?
There’s a practical guide book that can help: "Networks that Work," by Paul Vandeventer and Myrna Mandell. Both have lots of experience in helping
organize collaborative networks at the local and regional levels in both the public and non-profit arenas. Their book offers
practical advice for anyone trying to get something done, while being dependent on a cross-agency or cross-sector network
to be successful. For example, the book offers advice on how to assess the creation of a network, and includes a checklist
of questions to ask along the way to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. The book ends with a set of "guiding
Nine Guiding Principles:
- Focus on shared purpose
- Start from pre-existing relationships
- Make sure members assess their tolerance for risk
- Respect organizational and institutional autonomy – while establishing common ground
- Assure up-front time, resources and organizational commitment from key players
- Build new types of relationships
- Emphasize equal partnership
- Expect – even embrace – areas where conflict is likely to occur and develop an understanding of how to
resolve and establish common ground
- Secure needed resources for operation
The book and website include a series of case studies of the three different kinds of networks:
Networks to Cooperate: Where networks are used to cooperate, they share best practices, have common
agendas, and build momentum. This is the most common form, and least threatening to organizational autonomy of its members.
The case example deals with the North American Alliance for Fair Employment.
Networks to Coordinate: Where networks are used to coordinate, they pursue joint service delivery,
develop joint policy, and engage in activities requiring mutual reliance. This form of networks is seen as a moderate risk
to members’ organizational autonomy. The case example deals with the California Partnership.
Networks to Collaborate: Where networks are used to collaborate, there is a higher perceived risk to
organizational autonomy of its members. It involves representatives at the table who come with authority to bind their organizations
to network decisions and reach agreement on ways they play their roles within the larger system. The case example deals with
The Water Forum.
If you’re involved in managing an existing or a future network, this just might be the book for you.
Smarter Governing is what we're working on, find more answers at ibm.com/federal.