Creating a Problem-Solving Network (Part II)
There have been a series of studies providing lessons on how to effectively create a collaborative community. For example, having a catalyst (like Lucas) and have a convening place to share (like the OpenGovPlaybook wiki), are great starting points. Russ Linden, an author who is an astute observer of collaborative approaches, recently wrote about the importance of a collaborative mindset. And being passionate and motivated matter too, as this Dan Pink video playfully demonstrates:
- Information diffusion networks, that create informal ties between agencies and people. These can be designed (top-down) or emergent (bottom-up). This can evolve, for example, among disaster preparedness experts (such as the All Hazards Consortium).
- Service implementation networks, whose members jointly deliver services. For example, the Service Canada network delivers a range of social services on behalf of a consortium of government agencies.
- Problem solving networks help set agendas for a policy area. They tend to focus on problem solving rather than relationship building.
- Community building networks develop social capital among its members. They tend to be focused on long-term capacity-building.
- Manage accountability
- Manage legitimacy
- Manage conflict
- Manage design (Governance Structure)
- Manage commitment
- Community: Members are at various levels: conveners, core members, active members, and peripheral members.
- Domain: a focus on a specific area (such as Open Government) and a collective passion for an issue and how it can contribute to society. Oftentimes, there is a political context that gives legitimacy to this domain and those affected by it.
- Practice: Techniques, methods, tools and professional attitudes, along with learning activities to build, share, and apply the practice.
- Sponsorship and support: This could be done top-down or via a professional association from the outside. This would include logistics (such as meeting space), communications, and coaching for network leaders.
- Understanding prior initiatives and the overall environment in which the collaborative network will be working. Whenever possible, leverage existing (rather than creating new) networks.
- Developing effective process, structures, and governance mechanisms so participants understand their scope and roles.
- Understand the role of key players, such as who has decision authority. . . and this will likely shift over the course of a collaboration process, especially if the role of the network changes.
- Demonstrating leadership and key competencies. . . typically the network sponsors have formal authority and the on-the-ground network champions lack formal authority but have legitimacy in the eyes of the other members of the network to be their convener.
- Creating an outcome-oriented accountability system by collecting data on the inputs, processes, and outcomes of the network and relies on transparency and relationships among the network members to self-enforce behaviors.