Scaling Up Collaborative Impact

April 11, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

The point of collaboration is not feel-good fuzziness. It’s the impact that all the feeling good will have.

Still, collaboration does not always lead to a feel-good experience, and sometimes people who have taken a stab at collaborative efforts wound up asking themselves why they bothered.

They bothered because there was a worthwhile aim, whether it was realized or not. In her book “The Art of Leading Collectively,” Petra Kuenkel presents her five principles of scaling up collaborative impact, while acknowledging that such an effort can be a learning journey with a meandering path. There might be wrong turns of obstacles, but they are part of the deal. The principles are:

* Take collaboration seriously. Avoiding sliding into competition while believing you’re collaborating.

* Shift the focus from events to collaborative change processes. Learn how to take care of a system of collaborating actors so that they develop the cohesiveness the aspired change requires.

* Combine structural change with dialogic change. Create an appropriate balance between dialogic exchanges and the safety of structures and procedures.

* Design integral approaches. Attend to wonderland as much as flatland, and don’t get lost in one particular way of doing things.

* Take the path with heart. Discover and revive the passion for collaborative change.