While collaboration can refer to a broad range of interactions between multiple parties, The Intersector Initiative focuses on collaborations characterized by shared decision-making processes among sectors. This type of collaboration is frequently referred to as collaborative governance and can result in joint program or service design and delivery, jointly-conceived policies or policy recommendations, and other activities where the resources and expertise of multiple sectors are leveraged in service of a shared vision and where decision-making authority is shared among partners.
Each sector — and indeed each entity within the sectors — has its own language, culture, and work practices, which can prove challenging to align when pursuing shared goals in a consensus-oriented environment. Our Toolkit is designed to assist practitioners in navigating those differences. In an effort to produce a resource applicable to collaborations on multiple issues, the Toolkit was designed to provide ‘’starting-point’’ guidance on tactics to consider when working across sectors. For this reason, we recommend this Toolkit for relative beginners to cross-sector collaboration or for those who are working with partners who are new to cross-sector collaboration. Specifically, we recommend practitioners use this Toolkit as a planning guide for collaboration, distributing it to core partners in the early planning stages and using it as a resource to support shared understanding of key elements for their collaborative process and a common language for those elements.
The Toolkit is designed to be process specific, rather than issue or sector specific because we believe there are common elements to all successful cross-sector collaborations and because we want to ensure that our Toolkit is accessible to practitioners working on a broad range of problems in varying types of collaborations.
Each tool describes an action that practitioners can take together to help forge successful collaborations. In addition to the tool definition, the Toolkit also provides rationale for the importance of the tool (Why It Matters), questions to guide tool use, an example of the tool in use from our Case Library, and additional resources that we recommend practitioners review for actionable guidance on implementing the tool or related tactics.
While the Toolkit suggests four stages to collaboration, collaboration is not a linear process. These tools are not static, and we encourage practitioners to select the tools that are most appropriate for their project stage and partnership structure, and to use them repeatedly at different stages when needed.
To date, this resource is informed by our library of case studies and correlating leadership interviews, literature reviews that address the theories and practices that characterize cross-sector collaboration, and in-depth analysis of similar guiding resources in the fields of collective impact, public-private partnerships, and other collaborative frameworks.
We consider this Toolkit a living document, which we are continually improving based on practitioner feedback. If you have suggestions on how to further enhance this resource, you can share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.