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Collaboration is a great tool and can be a key component to the success of an organization. As I stated in my last post, the need for clear communication is absolutely essential to the success of any collaboration. After the high-level discussions are done about why this collaboration will be a benefit to both parties, further discussions need to happen to cover the nitty-gritty.
Collaboration can come in many forms: a full partnership on a large project, sharing space or just sharing information. The type of details needed to be discussed will depend on the nature of the collaboration.
Lately, I have seen more organizations that are interested in sharing space. For example, a social service organization that uses their property during the day Monday through Friday that has partnered with another community-based organization that needed space on some evenings and weekends. This has been a great collaboration for them because one needed to reduce expenses and the other did not want to pay for a space that they would only use 25 percent of the time. For this type of collaboration, discussing items such as the exact times and part of the space that would be shared, any supplies that would be shared, insurance, security and types of activities that would occur in the building are extremely important.
For a larger collaboration that includes shared risk and profit, the conversations can feel like they are covering the minutia but they are essential to success. Here are some things to consider when approaching those conversations.
• Accounting. Transparency is key and having an agreed-upon third party doing this may provide the highest comfort level to each party.
• Marketing and public relations. This is a very ego-filled area and may also be best handled by a third party. That will help to ensure that neither side is getting an unfair share of promotion.
• Logistics. This goes back to who brings what skills to the table. Go through each piece of the project and decide what organization is responsible for what part. Scheduling frequent update meetings for all key stakeholders will ensure that the project is on track and meeting expectations.
Collaboration is a powerful tool and should be considered as part of a business plan. Resources are tight and collaboration can be a financially prudent option. Be clear on expectations and responsibilities and the rewards can be great.
As managing partner of MJF Partners LLC, Ms. Flynn brings over eight years of experience in small business and non-profit development. Prior to founding MJF Partners, Ms. Flynn was the executive director of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. As executive director she brought her passion for independent business and community building to Lincoln Square and created a sense of place that helped to transform the Lincoln Square Community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. This experience is utilized as she partners with businesses to maximize resources and opportunities to exceed their goals.