The Typology of Collaboration

There are three catagories of colaboration: active collaboration, developing collaboration and potential collaboration.

Active collaboration is collaboration of the highest level. The partners have successfully established stable collaboration that is sustained despite any uncertainties in the system. The partners have adopted common, consensual goals, developed a sense of belonging and mutual trust and reached consensus on mechanisms and rules of governance. As a result, professional practices should be transformed on the basis of a new consensual division of interprofessional and interorganizational responsibilities and the introduction of innovative practices.

Developing collaboration is collaboration that has not taken root in the cultures of the partner organizations and may still be subject to re-evaluation on the basis of internal or environmental factors. Goals, relationships between partners, governance mechanisms, and formalization are the subject of a negotiating process that has not yet produced a consensus. The negotiations may be partial or a source of conflict, but they are nevertheless open, ongoing and accessible. This type of collaboration results in a tentative division of responsibilities between professionals and institutions; in timid transformations of professional practices; and in services that are less efficient than they might be. 

Potential collaboration refers to collaboration that does not yet exist or has been blocked by conflicts that are so serious that the system cannot move forward and satisfactory forms of collaboration cannot be implemented. When potential collaboration is characterized by significant opposing forces, either negotiations do not take place or they are constantly breaking down. It is therefore hard to introduce the new professional practices that the network needs, for innovation is difficult in an environment beset by a whole series of conflicts. Services may suffer from a loss of accessibility and continuity. Only by resolving the conflicts can collaboration be implemented. 

Source: BMC Health Services Research

The Indicators for Success

The following ten indicators can be considered to evaluate the processe of collaboration. The degree to which these indicators are achieved within an organization will show the gap between optimal collaboration and its current state.

The following four indicators are for evaluating the relational dimensions:

  • Goals
  • Client-centered orientation
  • Mutual acquaintanceship
  • Trust

The following six indicastors are for evaluating the organizational dimensions:

  • Centrality
  • Leadership
  • Support for innovation
  • Connectivity
  • Formalization Tools
  • Information Exchange

Source: BMC Health Services Research

The Four Dimensional Model of Collaboration

This model suggests that collective action can be analyzed in terms of four dimensions operationalized by 10 indicators. Two of the dimensions involve relationships between individuals and two involve the organizational setting which influences collective action. The four dimensions are interrelated and influence each other.

The relational dimensions are:

1) Shared Goals and Vision refers to the existence of common goals and their appropriation by the team, the recognition of divergent motives, the diversity of definitions and expectations regarding collaboration;

2) Internalization refers to an awareness by professionals of their interdependencies and of the importance of managing them.  This translates into a sense of belonging, knowledge of each other’s values and discipline and mutual trust.

The organizational dimensions are:

3) Formalization is the extent to which documented procedures communicate desired outputs and behaviours and are being used. Formalization clarifies expectations and responsibilities.

4) Governance is  the leadership functions that support collaboration. Governance gives direction to and supports professionals as they implement innovations related to interprofessional and interorganizational collaborative practices.

Together, these four dimensions and the interaction between them capture the processes inherent in collaboration. They are subject to the influence of external and structural factors such as resources, financial constraints and policies.

Source:  BMC Health Center Research

Create A Process For Collaboration

The first component of the collaborative process is to create the process itself. This involves the creation of essential guidelines that serve as the framework for how the collaborating parties will work together:

    Set ground rules that fit each particular project
    Define project scope, goal, and expected results
    Discuss leadership
    Define roles and responsibilities
    Discuss decision making methodology
    Set the priorities and milestones
    Discuss rewards and recognitions
    Teach each other / informal learning pathways
    Stay organized
    Discuss required resources
    Solicit feedback

Source: Greg Giesen

Requisite Skills For Collaboration

The following are the requisite skills for collaboration to be applied in a typical working environment such as: production environment, project management situation, product launch, strategic planning effort, product development, customer service, or classroom teaching.

    Self awareness
    Social skills
    Intrapersonal skills
    Critical thinking
    Self help
    Self directed learning
    Research techniques
    Problem solving
    Precision & accuracy
    Team work

Principles of Collaboration

Collaboration can be the key to effective use of our time, resources and effort. For creating successful collaborative environment, we must keep the following principles in mind:

    Do we have a shared goal?
    Do we know who’s who?
    Do we build status based on our actions?
    Do we agree that our behavior can be regulated according to our shared values?
    Are we interacting in a shared space that is appropriate to our goals?
    Can we relate to each other in smaller numbers?
    Do we have easy ways to share ideas and information?
    Do we know who belongs and who doesn’t?
    Can we trade knowledge, support, ideas?
    Can we easily indicate our opinions and preferences?
    Can we track our evolution?