From a personal perspective the learning that I have experienced around collaboration includes the fact that it is not easy to achieve, it requires continues communication, active listening and negotiation, but it is extremely satisfying and exciting to be working in a new way that sits so comfortably with the values and principles that are promoted throughout engaging together.
For me collaboration relies upon the skills needed of a ‘twenty-first century public servants’ (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/public-service-academy/news/The-Twenty-first-century-public-servant.aspx). Building authentic relationships is pivotal to any collaboration work, shared understanding and empathy is essential. Facilitation and synthesising skills are needed to enable joint decisions to be made in a way that allows creativity and creates a safe space that allows critique and difference of opinions to be shared.
Working with officers who become “resource weavers make creative use of existing resources to generate something new and useful for service users and citizens”, using networks and exploring opportunities and pursuing links that allow me to make connections and continue to nurture these relationships. The use of a whole systems thinking approach which values different kinds of assets and creates space for things to emerge is really useful. The insight that you get from appreciative inquiry provides valuable knowledge and understanding from different perspectives, which is really useful when working across different organisations and sectors.
Working with catalysts within the community, individuals within organisations that have vision, passion but also the desire to ‘just do it’ and make something happen. They are open to collaboratively working together and this enables me to take on a ‘Navigator role, providing guidance around the range of possibilities that might be available’
Finally, to build relationships you need to be open, honest and genuinely communicate with integrity. Being encouraged to use social media such as twitter has enabled me to continue and further the relationships with the CVF sector groups and individuals and communicate on a more frequent and informal basis.
However be warned this way of working is not based on a nine till five day job. Your values, beliefs and heart are needed as is a positive nature and openness to innovation.