According to the GlobeScan and SustainAbility report, collaboration is an imperative when creating new innovations. This is as opposed to when reproducing something that has already been made before, where outsourcing or solo production is seen as more efficient. Why? Because creating something new involves a lot of new ideas that are unlikely to be found within the same organisation. This is profoundly important in the context of mobilizing global collective action where the core theme is creating new solutions that address everyone’s concerns. Without a collaborative approach, it is highly likely that many stakeholde’s interests will not be taken into consideration, the solution will not reflect the collective wisdom of humanity, and participation required in implementing the solutions will not be achieved.
So, how do you make sure a collaboration is successful? GlobeScan point toward evidence indicating that organisations adopting a collaborative approach must also introduce significant organisational changes. They must 1) consider the strategic role of collaboration at high level management 2) reorganise their inter-organisational infrastructures so that the right people are collaborating together and 3) restructure internal infrastructures so as to ensure internal processes of workflow are geared towards collaborating with their external partners.
These are no small feats. Collaboration takes real commitment from everyone, from the decision makers at the top to executives right in the heart of action. But it is worth it. Speaking of addressing sustainable development challenge, the GlobeScan report argues, “collaboration continues to be viewed as one of the few models that could catalyse solutions to challenges that we face at the speed and scale that we need”. And the same can be said of all global challenges of our time.
Within the voluntary and community sector (VCS) there is also naturally a growing discussion about the benefits of collaboration, published in reports and on websites, and demonstrated in practice.
NCVO, UK umbrella body for volunteering and civil society, argues that “Change cannot happen without the active involvement, support and coorperation of others. Collaboration therefore often lies at the heart of successful campaigning and influencing and can be central to achieving lasting change”. Describing the benefits of collaborative campaigning, NCVO notes advantages of
Bringing together a range of expertise, knowledge and experiences
Lead to the sharing of resources and workloads
Access to a broader base of supporters and therefore achieve bigger targets
Enable you to apply pressure on decision makers at various levels
Movements are more appealing than the efforts of single organisations as they are seen to have greater legitimacy in the eyes of decision makers
Make a greater impact
The UK’s Big Lottery Fund, examining the emergence of collaborative working in mainstream public policy of the community sector, links it back to the publication of the UK Government Treasury’s 2002 Cross Cutting Review (HM Treasury 2002). Since then, it argues, there has been “the idea of collaborative working between VCOs as a means of achieving greater efficiency, effectiveness and impact”.
Despite the fact that we are living in a globalising world, some of you might be surprised to know that the IVAR report notes there is little exchange of ideas between the international NGOs and those working at the local level (p2).
Naturally there is a huge cost involved in transnational collaboration. But that’s of course why we are here, ready to create the technology to facilitate affordable, intuitive and smart local>global, global>local collaborative, collective action.