Determine How Best to Work Together

Develop processes for communication.

Honest and frequent communication among collaboration members builds trusting relationships and ensures everyone understands the scope and goals of the collaboration’s work. Discuss the values that will guide your communication with one another. Develop a meeting schedule and establish expectations for how members will communicate with one another between meetings.

Establish decision-making authority and processes.

To increase ownership among its members, a collaboration needs to articulate who can make decisions and the process for making them. While it can be difficult for everyone to be involved in every decision due to scheduling conflicts and other challenges, all members must be involved in making decisions that affect the group’s fundamental direction, such as developing its mission, adding partners, and determining how to allocate resources. Vera staff have observed consensus to be the most effective decision-making process. This does not mean that every member is in total agreement but, instead, requires that nobody oppose the decision. This allows everyone’s voice to be included, while efficiently moving the process forward.

Embrace conflict and develop a conflict resolution policy.

Every collaboration inevitably encounters conflict; the healthiest ones embrace it as a tool for growth. Conflict or exploring differing ideas about a subject is an essential part of creating a new understanding and approach. For a collaboration working to improve services for survivors with disabilities, core issues such as mandatory reporting, definitions of intimate partners, and strategies for securing safety need to be explored. While most conflicts and disagreements can be resolved through open conversation, it’s important to have a plan in place to address those that cannot.

Resources You Can Use

  • MASS Collaboration Decision-Making Process. In this excerpt from their collaboration charter, the MASS Collaboration in Boston, MA describes their approach to consensus decision making and their reason for selecting this model, and outlines the decision-making authority of the collaboration and its members.
  • Intersections Conflict Resolution Policy. In this policy, the Intersections Collaboration in Boulder, CO discusses the benefits of conflict and their approach to ethically addressing conflict in a way that advances their work.
  • MASS Collaboration Communication Plan. The MASS Collaboration developed an extensive communication plan that covers both internal and external communication, frequency and length of meetings, and talking points for media contact.