Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Coblaboration Test

I've written before about how many cross-sector efforts remain stuck in "coblaboration" and rarely move to collaboration. The following chart highlights the difference between the two.

 Collaboration for Collective Impact
Focused on assigning blame or taking credit
Focused on outcomes
Stakeholders participate to protect
Stakeholders participate to generate value
Opinions rule
Data is king
Talk exceeds action
Actions emerge from engagement
Informal process
Intentional, rigorous process

While "coblaboration" is a made up word, I've never had to explain it to anyone working in the civic sector. Everyone is all to familiar with the frustrations of coblabloration; even though they may not have had a word to describe it. As I've worked with more and more collaborations, I've begun to develop a set of multiple-choice questions that stakeholders can take to assess whether they're stuck in coblaboration-mode or whether they are moving to collaboration.

Leaders of collaborations should ask the participants to take and share such a self-assessment on a consistent basis to surface key issues that hinder a collaboration's progress.

1. I participate in this collaboration:
a.) To protect myself or my organization's interests
b.) I'm not sure why
c.) Because it creates value for me and/or my organization

2. When it comes to other participants in this collaboration:
a.) I am suspicious of their motives and priorities.
b.) I am unclear of their motives and priorities.
c.) I understand their motives and priorities.

3. My level of trust with other participants is:
a.) Non-existent
b.) Low
c.) Moderate
d.) Strong

4. My level of trust with other participants is:
a.) Declining
b.) Staying the same
c.) Growing

5. Our collaboration has a regular meeting schedule:
a.) Yes
b.) No
c.) I don't know

6. Our meetings are:
a.) Like Ground Hog Day, the same thing over and over
b.) Inconsistent
c.) Helpful
d.) Very Helpful

7. Our collaboration's communications are:
a.) Rare
b.) Sporadic
c.) Consistent

8. Our collaboration's communications are:
a.) Unclear and unhelpful
b.) Somewhat helpful
c.) Very helpful

9. Participants in our collaboration are focused on:
a.) Assigning blame
b.) Taking credit
c.) Achieving change
d.) Not sure yet

10. Data from our collaboration:
a.) Isn't available
b.) Is available, but irrelevant
c.) Is relevant but rarely used
d.) Is occasionally used
e.) Regularly informs are decision-making

Take the coblaboration test. What do your answers tell you about the health of your collaboration?