Phase 1-- Between now and March 13
Phase 2 Between March 13 and March 20:
3. Increasing connectivity in your environment: how do you create conditions that make more and deeper partnerships and networks more likely to take place Ron, Gino, Felicia, Abbie

Working in the area you chose in class, between now and March 13, write and post on the appropriate wiki page two or three entries (a couple of hundred words, maximum, each) that address some key aspect of what leaders should know about that area. Your entry may draw from your own experience, a reading (either something you read on your own, or on the common reading list), or a guest speaker or website. Please use footnotes as appropriate. Put your name on the entry.

These entries will serve as the raw material for the next round of the wiki development.

Increasing Connectivity in Your Environment
According to Chrislip (2002), “A collaborative process provides a structure for adaptive work…adaptive work requires a conducive environment and appropriate tools to facilitate learning and discovery among diverse stakeholders (p.45). What are these tools? As a leader of an organization this first necessary condition to ensure partnerships and networks is to know your purpose as an organization. What are your goals and values in ten words or less? Secondly, knowing your purpose, you need to be open to creating new relationships. You should try to make as many contacts as possible and assume best intentions with each interaction. According to Carl Sussman (personal communication, February 27, 2009) an organization should constantly be looking out (for partnerships) and allowing other influences to come in: must be porous. In order to create deep partnerships you need to be open to new relationships with others. This may mean that if your organization is hierarchical you will need to share power. The structure of your organization may change in order to create deeper partnerships. All relationships require trust. It is necessary to trust that the people you are partnering with may have different intentions, but that both of you will work collectively on a common goal.
-Abbie Finger

According to Molly from ROCA [LINK] she believes that PERSISTENCE is the key to creating deeper partnerships. Molly believes the way to make this happen is “understanding values as a way to behave! When it’s hard it is not easy!” She believes that everyone “needs partners who push us to be better!” In order to find interdependencies comes from finding a common ground. Many relationships start out with transactions and then as time and trust builds turns into transformative relationship. Communication helps with transparency and fostering deeper relationships. According to Molly, in positions of transformative relationships, people have to “get over the fact that you may not be right and that is okay because it is not about being right and wrong.” Transformative partnerships are about working together towards a common goal to achieve something “new” that neither group could do individually which is the beauty of transformative relationships.
-Abbie Finger

Organizations can impact and shape the environment through the use of a network weaver. The weaver’s job is to actively find and join organizations in new ways to accomplish a common goal (Chris Lynch, personal correspondence, February 20, 2009). Carl Sussman (personal correspondence, February 27, 2009) calls this influence or changing of the environment through deliberate action “creating your own weather.” Furthermore, Sussman stated that organizations need to be porous to allow the inflow and outflow of information, ideas, influence, ideas, expertise, knowledge, and innovation that allow organizations to influence their environment. Organizations that are more transparent and allow for the inflow and outflow of information find it easier to form partnerships (Teitel, 2003).
-R. Barbercheck

In a neoliberal Unites States, it is very easy to lose track of the importance of collaboration as most individuals and organizations clamor to be the “best” in whatever sector they are in. However, as Rubin (2002) states, “collaboration is democracy’s mandate”. The reality is that there are a limited number of resources in the world, in time, materials, money, and human capital. In a socialist society, these resources would ideally be divided evenly among the citizenry. In a democracy, especially a capitalist democracy, everyone is constantly competing for those resources. Contrastingly, a democracy also calls for each individual citizen (or collective groups of citizens in the form of organizations) to contribute to the common good. The only way to do that is by self-regulating the disbursement of resources. Collaboration is one way to rectify the dichotomy between competition and common good because by sharing resources each individual gets what they need and is able to fulfill there personal goals as a citizen. Additionally, in transformative partnerships or networks, the resulting product is greater than the sum of the resources that are put into it.
-F. Brown

In some instances, building a collaborative network is a matter of one’s own survival. In the case of Tom Del Prete, Director of the Hiatt Center at Clark University, the college needed to reach out to the community to improve the conditions surrounding the campus in order to attract students (Tom Del Prete, personal communication, February 13, 2009). However, the immediate need caused a snowballing affect that led Tom and his organization to a forming a deep and transformative network with many organizations in the community. There was a sense of urgency that brought the network together and forced the first person to reach out across the walls of their own silo-ed organization in search of help. Without this sense of urgency, though, is true collaboration possible? Or can the urgency be created by an affective leader who sees the value of collaboration?

Sorry team. I'll be jumping in to this page over the weekend and will have my posts up soon.

Personally, I believe that in order for an organization to start building successful partnerships, it must first learn to partner with itself. This may sound silly, but if an organization cannot work collaboratively within, it will not be able to form strong relationships with potential partners. I speak partly from experience, because in my organization we are divided into several sub-groups that ultimately serve the technology needs of the HGSE community (common goal). For a very long time, groups worked independently and failed to recognize the bigger picture. Collaboration among sub-groups was rare and most times non-existent, and there was no talk of partnering with other departments on or off campus. Only recently, (over the past two years or so) our organization started to realize the importance and advantage of working collaboratively across sub-groups, and as a result our work environment is becoming much more efficient. The newfound emphasis on internal collaboration has been contagious, and we have started to look externally as well. Our organization has begun working closely with outside departments (Library, Admissions, Career Services, Deans Office, etc.) to form partnerships that are clearly transactional and approaching transformative. In each young partnership, both sides are able to share unique levels of expertise and develop solutions that have the best interest of the community in mind.
-Gino Beniamino

From my earlier post (even though these are merely minutes apart), it may seem like we just woke up one day and started working together. That was so not the case! It has been a two year transitional period that is still a work in progress, and there were many tasks involved in creating buy-in among staff members. I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the tasks that were implemented along the way to help increase connectivity in our environment:
  • School-wide to survey aimed at uncovering strengths and weaknesses in service. Results helped to shape the overall mission and goals of our organization moving forward. This was pivotal in creating buy-in because the information was coming from our customer (the community at large) and not a hierarchical mandate/policy change.
  • New CIO asked to meet one on one with every employee in the organization. Very candid conversation that started to build a sense of trust from day one.
  • Weekly manager meetings and monthly full-staff meetings. The goal of these gatherings is to inform one another of what is going in each team's area of expertise. Staff members and managers are asked to present latest accomplishments in monthly meetings to emphasize the idea of shared power and responsibility (sometimes just hearing about what others are doing helps to generate new ideas for collaboration). Also highlighted in monthly meetings are some of the more recent collaborative efforts (e.g. IT team helping various sub-groups with internal training materials, Helpdesk and Desktop support developing a system to inventory campus equipment, Database partnering with Admissions to develop a more user friendly online application process for prospective students, etc.). These meetings are a far cry from Roca's "Peacemaking Circles", but they are an important step in keeping internal lines of communication open.
  • Sharing information through electronic resources (web sites, shared server space, wikis, etc.). In theory, this is a wonderful concept because each sub group can create an online database of information that is easily shared across the organization. However, this is one area that still needs a lot of work. Groups have been unable to agree on a consistent form of knowledge sharing, so several formats exist, making it difficult to navigate.
-Gino Beniamino