Diving Into The Intersector Toolkit: Communicate the Interdependency of Each Sector

blogimageWe recently updated our Toolkit for Intersector Collaboration to provide even more useful advice to practitioners involved in cross-sector collaborations. We’re profiling each of our 17 tools on our blog, with a focus on resources that can help collaborations succeed.

Cross-sector partnerships rely on the differing expertise, resources, and networks of each partner to achieve its aims. A business-sector partner, for example, may have access to proprietary information or financial resources not readily available to other partners; a non-profit partner may have singular policy- or community-related expertise; a government partner may have unique authority to exercise means to design or implement the initiative. By facilitating processes through which partners come to clearly understand how the resources of other partners directly influence the collaboration’s capacity to achieve its goals, the collaboration increases the likelihood that partners will value others’ contributions and remain committed to the collaboration. Without this understanding, partners may withdraw from the process when challenges arise, viewing the issue at hand as solvable without the involvement of other sectors.

Group activities can help partners begin to understand the interdependency of each sector. For example, the interactive team-building exercise Tool 11: Let’s String Along in the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ “Collaboration Toolkit: How to Build, Fix, and Sustain Productive Partnerships” (found on p. 5 of Section 6: Teamwork Strategies) aims to demonstrate and reinforce the interdependency of partners. With the assistance of a leader or facilitator, partners complete a 15-20 minute activity where they are prompted to identify points of reliance on others and then reflect on a set of closing questions. By tossing a ball of string among partners, this interactive exercise produces a visual representation of how “all partners depend on or are ‘tied to’ one another for this project to succeed.” This activity can be completed at any stage of a collaboration and comes from Scannell, E.E. and Newstrom, J.W. Still More Games Trainers Play: Experiential Learning Exercises. New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill, Inc., 1991.

For a less visual and more writing-centric activity, partners can see “Is This Collaboration Feasible” in The Good Project’s “The Good Collaboration Toolkit: An Approach to Building, Sustaining, and Carrying Out Successful Collaboration,” found on p. 6. This activity asks partners to write brief mock proposals that address a series of questions related to the rationale for collaboration. Reviewing partners’ answers to questions such as “Do the collaborators have complementary knowledge and skills, or is there significant overlap in collaborator’s knowledge and skills?” will likely highlight points of interdependency. This activity is intended for partners to complete in the early stages of a collaboration, but it can easily be adapted for use throughout the course of the collaboration to reinforce the interdependency of sectors and revisit the motivations that initially brought partners together.

See Communicate the Interdependency of Each Sector in our Toolkit for further discussion on this topic, questions to guide tool use, and more.

Explore the full Toolkit and each of the 17 tools with enhanced discussion, questions to guide tool use, and additional resources here.