Getting Started

Vision, Leadership & Team Building

The foundation of any collaborative endeavour is the vision that drives it, the leadership that moves it, and the team that supports it. A clear vision for the project and leadership capable of maintaining team direction are critical for success.

Getting Started
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Building relationships

Like bridge engineers who make sure all the supports for the bridge are in place, developing trust in a shared vision takes time but will produce a strong foundation for moving collaborative work forward.

what is meant by “vision”

Collaboration begins with a vision for the project. A shared vision is essential to guide project strategy. For example, a team member on the Harmonization Project provided feedback: “We’ve been doing cancer prevention work for so long in our different ways, all we needed was a combined project to work on together, with strong shared leadership – to really make an impact in our communities.”

The vision may exist from the outset or it may be developed through collaboration. The essential components of a shared vision are listed below.

R

It is based on the common interests of all partners.

R

It is mutually agreed upon.

R

It includes a meaningful goal.

Acknowledging the shared values of all partners can help define the project vision and act as a compass for the team’s actions. Note the distinction between a shared vision for a particular project (e.g., “leading cancer prevention though sustainable partnership”) and shared values that will collectively guide the collaboration itself (e.g., mutual respect, trust, honesty, privacy, inclusiveness, and transparency). It is also important to understand and respect the organizational and cultural components of each partner agency (e.g., values, beliefs, attitudes) as these will influence how members from the agencies do their work.

Once the vision is clearly articulated and agreement is achieved, partners must then decide on a suitable leadership structure.

Theresa Healy, Population Health, Northern Health, is capturing team discussion in imagery drawn during planning meetings. Her drawings became the inspiration for the icons in the collaboration framework.

Theresa Healy, Population Health, Northern Health, is capturing team discussion in imagery drawn during planning meetings. Her drawings became the inspiration for the icons in the collaboration framework.

Sharing the Vision: Prior to developing a shared vision as a group, the Harmonization Team completed individual surveys to gather their unique perspectives on harmonized work. This word cloud or “wordle” displays the words used most frequently by team members.

 A Wordle is a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like.

To make a WORDLE just brainstorm a bunch of key words and phrases with your team, list them in an excel spreadsheet taking care to include all the repetitions of important words.  Words with more repetitions appear larger in the word cloud. www.wordle.net

The harmonization team generated this vision statement as a group:

Leading Cancer Prevention Vision Statement

Leadership Structures

Collaborative leadership offers alternative approaches to traditional structures. Successful collaborative leaders balance power sharing and control, while fostering trust and maintaining direction.

Early agreement on decision-making processes in any leadership structure is essential. Depending on the group, this may be consensus-based or majority-rules.

Three types of leadership structures have been outlined in the literature.

Lead Agency
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One organization can provide project leadership with the agreement of the collaborative partners. When working together to create a collective impact, this is often referred to as the backbone organization.
Lead Agency
Dedicated Administrator
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A separate administrative organization can provide oversight to the entire project. For example, an outside individual or entity can be hired to manage the collaborative.
Dedicated Administrator
Shared Governance
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This approach shares leadership responsibilities between partner groups and can help to promote feelings of equality, but may be difficult when the collaboration involves more than 5 or 6 partners. The use of an advisory board or steering committee composed of representatives from all agencies is one example of a shared leadership structure.
Shared Governance

Stories and Sharing

Even at the proposal stage there wasn’t a real focus on how we develop a new resource… how we decide who pays for that. And that discussion didn’t take place, partly because well, it wasn’t required for the grant proposal and we were focused on the proposal. And it didn’t come up until we met our first challenge about who was going to pay for the informational pamphlets to provide to patients. So thinking about that in advance would have been helpful. In the future, financial considerations could be included in a memorandum of understanding.

Team Building

The ability to recruit and retain partners with the desired skills and resources is key to effective collaborations and the development of mutually agreed upon principles.

It is important to consider involving partners that:

Have a vested interest

w

Can provide a different perspective

Represent an aspect of the work

Team Building Strategies

The following strategies can be used to help build an effective team.

Click on the tabs to see these strategies…..

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel1Be inclusive and diverse

Develop and maintain an inclusive approach to partnership. Diversity is a large part of why collaborative strategies are successful. As work progresses, remain open to seeking additional partners.

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel2Develop clear roles and responsibilities

It is important that all partners have collective understanding of the expected tasks and contributions of the team members and are able to commit to the partnership. Clear roles and responsibilities will also provide members with the structure needed to move the project work forward and will help to ensure accountability. Formal partnership agreements may be desired, or even required.

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel3Enlist multiple representatives and develop emergent leaders

Ensure that there is more than one representative from each partner organization. This can help alleviate the impact of team or staff turnover. Cultivating and developing leadership potential among partners is also important for moving forward in the event that the group experiences change in leadership.

Team Building Strategies

The following strategies can be used to help build an effective team.

Click on the tabs to see these strategies…..

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel1Be inclusive and diverse

Develop and maintain an inclusive approach to partnership. Diversity is a large part of why collaborative strategies are successful. As work progresses, remain open to seeking additional partners.

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel2Develop clear roles and responsibilities

It is important that all partners have collective understanding of the expected tasks and contributions of the team members and are able to commit to the partnership. Clear roles and responsibilities will also provide members with the structure needed to move the project work forward and will help to ensure accountability. Formal partnership agreements may be desired, or even required.

getstarted-teamstrategy-wheel3Enlist multiple representatives and develop emergent leaders

Ensure that there is more than one representative from each partner organization. This can help alleviate the impact of team or staff turnover. Cultivating and developing leadership potential among partners is also important for moving forward in the event that the group experiences change in leadership.

Word to the Wise

Team diversity is the backbone to successful collaboration.

Useful Tools

Memorandum of understanding

At the beginning of our work together, our group could have been easily described as diverse, dispersed, and dedicated. We were diverse in terms of disciplinary backgrounds and professional experience. Some of us worked and lived in the north and for others the project brought them to northern BC for the first time. We were dispersed in terms of location – with people in the group working in rural and urban centres across two provinces. And, importantly, the group was dedicated and highly committed to the focus of the planned collaborative work. These characteristics were the trifecta that created the opportunity to form a unique team with a vision to work together in new ways.

Some of the Harmonization Project team are shown here at a face-to-face meeting.