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Increasing Capacity for Collaboration and Affecting Action

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Collaborative Choi
April 4, 2017

The need to connect people to information is rapidly growing. Collaboration is an underpinning of that. As Jack Hirshleifer once said, “Information is of value only if it affects action.” Here are five ways to enhance your capacity for collaborating and affecting action.

1. Reduce time spent in meetings

“Shifting your company culture away from meetings can make your businesses more productive and employees more engaged and efficient” says Sharon Florentine, a Senior Writer at CIO. Endless are the lists of reasons for helpless meetings. There are lists of advice and tips to save the demise of meetings. Isn’t it easier to preserve time for only working meetings? Sometimes, as Stephen Covey says, you have no option but to meet to get real tangibles. Both Apple and PC provide computer-supported collaboration. Share and mark up documents, sign up to be a part of important projects, compile outlines and checklists, and summarize suggestions all “without scheduling meetings,” says Anna Diab, a growth marketing and customer success expert. Instead of spending endless hours in unproductive meetings, put electricity back into innovating when the time is right — when the ideas are flowing.books

2. Focus on Information and Values

Timely and consistent focus on information and values can be used to address issues before becoming unmanageable problems. This focus helps build idea platforms, allocating resources and heightening capacity to achieve important outcomes. Community policing, as an example, is a policy that’s been implemented in many localities across the U.S. The Lincoln Police Department, NE sees community policing “not as a program” but a “value system” in which the “primary goal is working cooperatively with individual citizens, groups of citizens, and both public and private organizations to identify and resolve issues.”

3. Interact

Silicon Valley folks like Facebook, Google and Yahoo have invested in what they call “social spaces.” The genius behind the space is to allow more ways for innovative ideas to “collide” and move freely through personal interactions. Samsung’s building, for instance, was engineered around social spaces; outdoor areas that fit within floors. Data shows “that creating collisions—chance encounters and unplanned interactions between knowledge workers, both inside and outside the organization—improves performance”, say folks at the Harvard Business Review. These designs also show that real collaboration is achievable. It builds trust when executives interact at this level. Apply this outlook to public entities and exciting things happen. Across the U.S. cops are utilizing social media to show their interaction with the community. Public entities are up against tough constraints when using such platforms, but it doesn’t take much to invite folks to participate in a survey, see the latest innovative projects or simply having a glimpse into someone’s day at the office.

4. Exchange

Too much focus on process and organizational barriers, like culture and even democracy, avenge capacity. For this reason, nonprofit agencies often drum up support from corporations by exchanging social assets for training, technology and funds. Public entities also have the ability participate, like joint use infrastructures. In 2014, a unique partnership opened between Virginia Beach and Tidewater Community College. A joint use library now extends services to students and the community in a way neither entity could do alone. These exchanges overcome blurred boundaries and networked structures with creative solutions. Two favored benefits, among the many, are a better use of scarce resources and the resounding thrill of cost savings. In the book Working Across Boundaries, Making Collaborations Work, Russell Linden says, “collaboration occurs when people from different organizations produce something together through a joint effort, resources, and decision making and share ownership of the final product or service.” Anyone can come up with an innovative idea, but sharing that idea and exchanging resources refines it into a reasonable solution that can be championed by many.

5. Collect and Implement

Data guides decisionmaking and government insiders have emphasized the “importance of data to our society.” The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 is leading efforts to support a “data-enabled economy”. Often, local OP3 offices provide enough data to serve as the jumping board for new projects. Barely do public entities have the flexibility to address challenges of today’s collaborative environments. It’s time to start focusing on ways to collect and implement local data, whether through the government or third parties. As suggested in the 2014-2018 plan, “the more that information is used, the more likely it is that new and innovative ways of using the data that improve decision making would be added to the store of general knowledge.” Instead of relying on “best guess” decisions, public entities can act upon evidence-based decisions.


Author: Collaborative Choi is a non-profit grant consultant working on things that inspire sound decisions for good work at the local level. Contact email is [email protected]

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