We often talk about collaboration or partnership working and say that it’s in the DNA of the sector. Of course we work collaboratively, we always have and we laud it as one of our strengths. We know that we have to work together otherwise we don’t get things done.
That’s all true; but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There is a lot of detail to be sorted out in joint working, we have to get that done and sometimes it can be very complicated. But at the heart of successful collaboration lies a very simple thing – trust.
Without genuine trust between the people across organisations collaboration will always be a chimera. There was a wonderful quote in one of the old Audit Commission publications, “partnership is the temporary suspension of mutual loathing for financial benefit.”
If that’s where we are coming from we will, in the end, fail. To get to real collaborative solutions we have to start by building trust. Getting to know people. Walking a mile in their shoes. Giving and taking.
We need to start this before the actual need for technical collaboration with a capital C. We need to build trust as the broad foundation upon which we build the specifics of any particular work.
The era of on-line meetings, silly pace and deadlines and the toxic effect of the competition demanded by the Lansley Reforms means that we need to question the assumption that collaboration comes easy to us.
We need to get talking, telling each other our personal stories and what excites us and worries us. We need to see this not as a frivolous extra but as core to building the trusting relationships upon which collaboration depends.