First of all, a warning. These tips are not the ten commandments of collaboration, they are guidelines. The only ones that can be taken as a given in any collaborative project are the first and the last. Most of the rest could be argued to be basic management principles.
- Don’t do it unless you have to! Collaborating is fraught with difficulty, and consumes a lot of resources. Unless there is genuine potential to gain collaborative advantage, it’s better to do something on your own.
- Budget a lot more time for the collaboration than you would otherwise expect.
- Don’t assume that the other party (or parties) have the same goals, values and objectives. Focus on your agenda, but be prepared to compromise.
- Build trust by starting with small, achievable tasks.
- Good communication is key: avoid jargon, strive for clarity, and seek clarification where required.
- Don’t assume that other organisations or individuals have the same work practices.
- Allow those managing the collaboration a degree of autonomy.
- Build trust by avoiding power plays where possible.
- Don’t just act as a director – be a facilitator.
- Assume that you cannot be wholly in control, and that the parties involved will be constantly changing, and use skill, energy, commitment, and continuous nurturing to achieve collaborative advantage.
(Source: Huxham and Vangen, 2005).