Sunday, 8 March 2015

Bite-size pieces: the 'Landowners' Objections'

A South African collaboration seeking to enhance the well-being and standard of living of mining communities included local communities, mining companies, the regional government and traditional tribal landowners. Each time the collaboration sought to provide resources and amenities that would enhance the lives of mining communities the tribal landowners held things up, keen to safeguard the rights of their tribe rather than those of the mine workers who were, for the most part, newly arrived migrants from elsewhere in Africa. Sometimes the tribal landowners were extreme in their opposition, for example demolishing buildings built for the regional government that they regarded as violating their traditional land rights.


The traditional tribal landowners generated significant negative value within the collaboration through their consistent and visible opposition to its activities.

'Landowners' Objections' false-value partners can be actual, as per the above example, or they can be a metaphor for something else, e.g., possessing specialist knowledge and expertise, or 'owning the moral high ground'. They tend to emerge in situations where there are strong vested interests and a bias towards political manoeuvring and power plays.

It is not always wise to avoid 'Landowners' Objections' false-value partners. If they have power and influence within the environment surrounding a collaboration it is best to invite them to become partners and tolerate the negative value they contribute. Then, informal ties and relationships can gradually be created that will enable a collaboration to recognise and exploit changes of stance or situation potentially favourable to its aims. Also, keeping this type of partner within the collaboration tent, rather than allowing it to roam freely and mark off its own territory, enhances a collaboration's ability to anticipate and manage the damage it can cause.


From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success
          
For more details click here.


To see the full post click here.  

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Bite-size pieces: the 'Faulty Toymakers'

A well-known toy manufacturer believed it was gaining positive value by partnering with foreign toy makers that promised to supply quality toys at reduced cost. However, a significant number of these foreign partner suppliers were unable, for whatever reason, to meet the required manufacturing and safety standards. This meant that paint with a high lead content was used in the manufacture of some toys, making them dangerous to children's health. 

Rather than contributing the promised positive value in the form of cost savings, the foreign toy makers (by not adhering to agreed standards) contributed negative value in the form of dangerous products.

'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners can be actual, as per the above example, or they can be a metaphor for some other service provider or product manufacturer. They tend to emerge when a partnership relies heavily upon contractual obligations to ensure compliance with agreed standards and obligations, rather than upon the quality and closeness of personal relationships between those involved. Such a reliance causes defensiveness amongst partners, who become anxious about the legal consequences of not delivering on their contractual obligations. This, in turn, leads to reticence about sharing difficulties and admitting mistakes. In some circumstances it may even lead to dishonesty and illegal cover-ups.

To avoid 'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners encourage and reward openness and honesty and discourage and, where necessary, punish non-transparency. Make it clear that help will be given to overcome honest mistakes, especially if partners are willing to declare and share them.


From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success
          
For more details click here.

 
To see the full post click here.  

Friday, 6 March 2015

Bite-size pieces: the 'Bristow Effect'

In 1993 the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) entered into a collaboration with Grant Bristow, a co-founder and leading member of a Neo-Nazi group called the Heritage Front. He agreed, for a fee, to provide information and intelligence which would help the CSIS prevent acts of racism and harassment. However, a subsequent investigation of this arrangement by Canadian MPs concluded that Bristow's leadership role within the extremist group 'may have led to the very events that caused the CSIS to keep him in place...'.

Bristow was helping to cause the crimes that the CSIS was seeking to prevent. He was contributing negative value rather than the promised positive value.

Controversially but also arguably, some nations that are seeking to collaborate with the Arctic Council to safeguard the Arctic environment could be classed as 'Bristow Effect' false-value partners. This is because they exhibit its key trait: they contribute significantly to the problems the collaboration is trying to solve.  A number of non-Arctic nations have promised to provide positive value in the form of knowledge, expertise and resources that will help safeguard the Arctic environment but in reality, through the greenhouse gases their gigantic industrial development produces, they contribute significantly more negative value so increasing the difficulty of the Arctic Council's task.       

'Bristow Effect' false-value partners tend to emerge when competing hidden or unspoken agendas are present within a collaboration.  

To avoid 'Bristow Effect' false-value partners insist that partners make commitments to the collaboration that are useful and credible: useful in that they are truly supportive of the collaboration's aims rather than self-serving, and credible in that they reflect what the partner is able to contribute with some meaningful sacrifices, risk taking and effort.


From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:                                                       
(available now)


For more details click here.

To see the full post click here.  



Thursday, 5 March 2015

Identify false-value partners: the 'Bristow Effect', the 'Faulty Toymakers' and the 'Landowners' Objections'

The 'Bristow Effect' 

In 1993 the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) entered into a collaboration with Grant Bristow, a co-founder and leading member of a Neo-Nazi group called the Heritage Front. He agreed, for a fee, to provide information and intelligence which would help the CSIS prevent acts of racism and harassment. However, a subsequent investigation of this arrangement by Canadian MPs concluded that Bristow's leadership role within the extremist group 'may have led to the very events that caused the CSIS to keep him in place...'.

Bristow was helping to cause the crimes that the CSIS was seeking to prevent. He was contributing negative value rather than the promised positive value. 

Controversially but also arguably, some nations that are seeking to collaborate with the Arctic Council to safeguard the Arctic environment could be classed as 'Bristow Effect' false-value partners. This is because they exhibit its key trait: they contribute significantly to the problems the collaboration is trying to solve.  A number of non-Arctic nations have promised to provide positive value in the form of knowledge, expertise and resources that will help safeguard the Arctic environment but in reality, through the greenhouse gases their gigantic industrial development produces, they contribute significantly more negative value so increasing the difficulty of the Arctic Council's task.       

'Bristow Effect' false-value partners tend to emerge when competing hidden or unspoken agendas are present within a collaboration. 

To avoid 'Bristow Effect' false-value partners insist that partners make commitments to the collaboration that are useful and credible: useful in that they are truly supportive of the collaboration's aims rather than self-serving, and credible in that they reflect what the partner is able to contribute with some meaningful sacrifices, risk taking and effort.


The 'Faulty Toymakers'      
                                         
A well-known toy manufacturer believed it was gaining positive value by partnering with foreign toy makers that promised to supply quality toys at reduced cost. However, a significant number of these foreign partner suppliers were unable, for whatever reason, to meet the required manufacturing and safety standards. This meant that paint with a high lead content was used in the manufacture of some toys, making them dangerous to children's health. 

Rather than contributing the promised positive value in the form of cost savings, the foreign toy makers (by not adhering to agreed standards) contributed negative value in the form of dangerous products.

'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners can be actual, as per the above example, or they can be a metaphor for some other service provider or product manufacturer. They tend to emerge when a partnership relies heavily upon contractual obligations to ensure compliance with agreed standards and obligations, rather than upon the quality and closeness of personal relationships between those involved. Such a reliance causes defensiveness amongst partners, who become anxious about the legal consequences of not delivering on their contractual obligations. This, in turn, leads to reticence about sharing difficulties and admitting mistakes. In some circumstances it may even lead to dishonesty and illegal cover-ups.       

To avoid 'Faulty Toymaker' false-value partners encourage and reward openness and honesty and discourage and, where necessary, punish non-transparency. Make it clear that help will be given to overcome honest mistakes, especially if partners are willing to declare and share them.


The 'Landowners' Objections'

A South African collaboration seeking to enhance the well-being and standard of living of mining communities included local communities, mining companies, the regional government and traditional tribal landowners. Each time the collaboration sought to provide resources and amenities that would enhance the lives of mining communities the tribal landowners held things up, keen to safeguard the rights of their tribe rather than those of the mine workers who were, for the most part, newly arrived migrants from elsewhere in Africa. Sometimes the tribal landowners were extreme in their opposition, for example demolishing buildings built for the regional government that they regarded as violating their traditional land rights.

The traditional tribal landowners generated significant negative value within the collaboration through their consistent and visible opposition to its activities.

'Landowners' Objections' false-value partners can be actual, as per the above example, or they can be a metaphor for something else, e.g., possessing specialist knowledge and expertise, or 'owning the moral high ground'. They tend to emerge in situations where there are strong vested interests and a bias towards political manoeuvring and power plays.  

It is not always wise to avoid 'Landowners' Objections' false-value partners. If they have power and influence within the environment surrounding a collaboration it is best to invite them to become partners and tolerate the negative value they contribute. Then, informal ties and relationships can gradually be created that will enable a collaboration to recognise and exploit changes of stance or situation potentially favourable to its aims. Also, keeping this type of partner within the collaboration tent, rather than allowing it to roam freely and mark off its own territory, enhances a collaboration's ability to anticipate and manage the damage it can cause.
 

The difference between false-value partners and false-positive partners

The difference between false-value partners and the false-positive partners mentioned in previous posts is that:

  • False-value partners commit (at least superficially) to contributing positive value to a collaboration but actually contribute negative value that hinders a collaboration's work.
  • False-positive partners commit to contributing positive value to a collaboration and actually deliver it, but only for as long as it takes to get what they want, at which point they end their involvement in the collaboration.


How power dynamics affect the behaviour of false-value partners and their relationships with other partners 

The discrepancy between commitments made and actual contributions is clearly evident in the first two 'false-value partner' examples given above. The discrepancy is less clear in the last 'Landowners' Objections' example.

This is because the power dynamics between partners in the last example differ from those in the previous two. In the first two examples the false-value partners are less powerful than the other partners, so they are required to make commitments to add positive value that at first glance seem credible (in example one there is a commitment to provide valuable intelligence and in example two there is a commitment to provide value at less cost). In example three the false-value partner is more powerful than the other partners. Specifically, the tribal landowners are a little stronger than the mining companies (which tend to act as separate entities so fragmenting and weakening their influence within the region) and significantly stronger than the local mining communities (which consist of poor migrant workers new to the region) and the regional government (which has ongoing credibility and legitimacy issues). Having the balance of power in their favour enables the tribal landowners to play mere lip service to the aims of the collaboration, safe in the knowledge that the other partners will not be able to challenge this openly and will not want to risk losing a partner that, although troublesome, would be even more dangerous as an adversary. 

In short, the low power of the false-value partners in the first two examples requires them to make commitments that at first glance seem credible. The high power of the false-value partner in the last example enables it to avoid making such commitments. This means that the negative value generated by false-value partners is not immediately apparent in the first two examples and immediately apparent but tolerated in the last.       

Monday, 2 March 2015

Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory

Here is a great free resource for those who want to assess how their collaboration is doing re. 20 research tested success factors:

 Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory

All the factors make perfect sense but, for me, two stand out:

  • Establishing informal relationships and communication links
  • Having a unique purpose   

Time and time again I see the ability to develop informal relationships being highlighted as essential to successful collaborative working.

Identifying a unique purpose is a great and inspiring way of defining what partners in a collaboration can achieve together that single organisations would find difficult to achieve alone.

Identify partial partners

Partial potential partners are individuals, groups, businesses and other organisations that are not likely to become fully involved in a collaboration. This could be because they are not sufficiently engaged with or interested in a collaboration's work or because, for whatever reason, a collaboration prefers to keep them at arm's length or parked safely out of harm's way. Perhaps their histories suggest they could cause problems if too closely involved in things, or perhaps their added value is best saved for special initiatives or times of particular need (much like a star football player who is only used for important matches or a specialist reserve player or 'super-sub.' who is only used for crucial moments in a game).

Whatever the reason, a partial partner's value is such that they are certainly considered worth keeping in the loop, in the network of the collaboration's potentially useful contacts, but not within the hub of the collaboration's ongoing and key partners:
  • A collaboration seeking to develop the role of social enterprise in enhancing the well-being of people living in deprived areas worked hard at keeping a wide variety of regional and central government agencies appraised of its activities, occasionally inviting them to take a closer look and perhaps play some part. This made it easier for the collaboration to ask for additional support from government sources as and when needed. Given the occasional, more casual nature of its relationships with various government agencies the collaboration often gained additional support in the form of greater recognition and influence for its work, rather than in the form of financial or other tangible resources. This support, however, helped it build a strong mainstream presence within organisational, institutional and societal thinking and practice. Also, government agencies, etc., were often able to point towards people and organisations that, with the right words in the right ears, could be persuaded to offer more practical support.
  • High profile individuals, such as royalty, sports people, actors, celebrities and well-known business leaders, etc., are often courted as partial partners. Their recognition value, reputations and credibility play a significant role in adding memorability and weight to a collaborative project's message, helping it gain timely additional support and resources for its work. The UN and many well-known charities use this approach.                    

Some individuals and groups are not high profile or influential but they can offer bridges towards those that are. This makes them potentially valuable partial partners that can be called upon to play their brokering/introducing role as and when their contacts are needed:
  • An initiative focused upon integrating health and social services enhanced its chances of success by seeking out the most active members of its regional 'Local Involvement Network', encouraging them to take an interest in its work and requesting introductions to some of their contacts. Those participating in Local Involvement Networks (which were initiated by the Department of Health to give local people a greater say in the workings of their health and social services) are low profile but enthusiastic people who, because of their involvement in the network, have access to a great many contacts across all sectors involved in delivering health and social services within a region.       

These  types of contacts and networks, because of their low profile, are not easily  identifiable (unlike celebrities or government departments) and they are usually discovered during face-to-face informal gatherings or outreach events that a collaborative initiative arranges for this and other purposes. This is one reason why encouraging and achieving a degree of informality between partners, potential partners and other stakeholders is a consistent trait of effective collaborations.

To see the full post click Here.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Activate dormant partners

Dormant potential partners are individuals, groups, businesses and other organisations and institutions that are unaware of their potential as partners, or they would like to be partners in an appropriate collaboration but do not know how to make it happen: where to look, who to contact, what avenues to follow, what opportunities there are, how it all works, etc. Dormant partners, once identified an activated, can often prove immensely valuable:
  • When an English Metropolitan Council delivered its services in the traditional 'top down' way the residents and community groups falling within its boundaries struggled to approach and engage with it. When the council made its approach to identifying services more participatory and involving it successfully activated the dormant partnering potential of local people.
  • The knowledge and expertise of individuals and groups with lived experience of mental and physical health issues would have lain unregarded and unused without the efforts of health service providers, who reached out and encouraged these people to become partners in identifying, delivering and enhancing the services they had direct experience of using. 
  • A charity delivering respite services to carers and the cared for became a leading partner in providing targeted and tailored care home services within a Northern English region when its partnering potential was identified, developed and utilised by a council's social care department.
  • The energy and vitality of youth would have remained untapped if those seeking to improve the youth services of a large northern city had not sort out young people's dormant creativity and harnessed it to the cause. Young people became partners in designing and delivering the services and making the business case for funding.
  • An established local business in North Yorkshire became the hub of a thriving social enterprise offering training and employment opportunities to the long-term unemployed when its dormant partnering potential was realised through collaboration with the regional council, which actively sort to engage with and support it.
  • A small computer recycling business in Kenya became a key partner in delivering a global computer manufacturer's environmental strategy when its dormant partnership potential was identified and exploited to mutual advantage.                            

Dormant partners (individual, organisational and institutional, large and small, informal and formal) are waiting to be found and utilised by those willing to invest time and effort in finding them.

To see the full post click Here.