3 Collaborative Networking
Collaboration is characterised by strong and highly interdependent relationships. Participants realise that to achieve outcomes they have to agree to radically alter the way that they think, behave and operate. Collaboration is not about making adjustments at the periphery; it is about systems change and as such participants are involved in a high-risk, high-stakes and volatile environment that can produce results significantly different from those originally intended. This requires a high level of trust and extensive dialogue between participants, however it can be highly rewarding for those willing to take the risks. For a collaboration to work there can no longer be ‘business as usual’. Collaboration demands participants forge new relationships and learn new ways of dealing with each other.
Key advantages of the collaborative approach include:
- a focused application of knowledge and expertise
- more effective use of resources
- a higher level of commitment to action
- more relevant and effective solutions.
Collaboration is a promising means of developing effective responses to many of the problems confronting our communities. Taking the first steps forward requires people and organisations to adjust their ways of thinking and behaving. It also means establishing new systems and processes within our organisations to facilitate and sustain collaborative efforts. We have reached a critical point in how we address the wellbeing of children and young people and a critical mass of knowledge has been established to shape action. The question is whether we are willing to make the changes necessary to establish collaborative practice as a legitimate reform goal and process.