1. Why is collaboration so important but so rare?
- Satan actively seeks to keep believers from working together
- Partnerships and networks take time and a conscious, focused effort. Most people are completely taken up with their own organization’s programs and objectives.
- Fear of loss of identity or perceived theological differences.
- Effective partnerships and networks are built on trust and common vision. You don’t develop those just by calling a meeting.
- Frequently good efforts fall short because they try too much too soon.
- (See the article “Why Not Collaborate?”
2. What are the most commonly mistakes made in networks or partnerships?
- Lack of clear, practical understanding of outcomes or objectives that no single ministry/person could achieve on their own but that will have value to all the potential participants.
- Trying to start a lasting initiative by calling a meeting. It takes time and one on one relationship and trust building before you call folks to the table.
- Trying to do too much too soon. Setting limited, achievable but high-priority objectives is critical in the beginning.
- Spending more time talking about structure than about vision. Form (structure) should always follow and be just the minimum needed to accomplish Function (purpose or objectives).
- Lack of clear, consistent communications.
- No facilitator committed to the long term who will be visionary, servant, and committed to the common good of all participants.
- Lack of clear understanding about who is to do what, when.
3. How do new partnerships or networks get funded?
Most are launched by visionary volunteers who see the potential power of what could be done together and gather others around the vision. They usually have their support from some other source but have strong experience and/or commitment to the field of the partnership’s focus. Frequently they get “loaned” to the project part or full time. Some partnerships and networks eventually are able to pay operating or out of pocket costs of their facilitators. A few collaborative efforts get to the place where the partnership or network pays a facilitator. With the exception of “trade associations,” this is quite rare.
4. If I were to talk with others about the idea of a new partnership or network, what are the most important questions to ask?
- “In the area of ministry in which we both have an interest, do you think there is anything that might be accomplished more effectively if organizations worked together rather than continuing to work separately?”
- “Would you be ready to sit down with other agency/ministry leaders to discuss this and, if the answer is “yes,” what practical steps might be taken?”