In the fall of 2019, Impact Hub Ottawa and Community Knowledge Exchange, in partnership with Living Tapestries, brought together leaders and change-makers in Ottawa for a series of workshops exploring the role of collaboration in advancing outcomes related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the first in a series of two posts that shares reflections and lessons learned from this project, which was made possible by the generous support of the Ottawa Community Foundation.
Getting Collaboration to Work for You and Your OrganizationIt’s no secret that collaboration - among and between governments, institutions, businesses, non-governmental organizations, academics, and individuals - is key to solving the world’s most urgent social and economic problems. Indeed, for the United Nations, collaboration is so crucial to ending poverty, protecting the planet and bringing peace and prosperity to all, that it dedicated one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to it: Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals. But while collaboration is important, it also requires organizations and individuals to acquire new skills and overcome unique and complex challenges.
The skills for collaborationFew places are better suited to understand what skills are required for collaboration than Impact Hub, a global network of shared workspaces designed to foster cross-sector collaboration around the SDGs. Our recent workshop series hosted in partnership with Ottawa-based social change agency Community Knowledge Exchange aimed to delve deeper into the challenges encountered by people trying to work together for a common cause, and what emerged both surprised and reassured us. During a three-part series that involved over 58 individuals from 47 organizations, participants were asked to think about the challenges they faced when trying to work together. Questions emerged like: How do we make time for collaboration? How do we build it into what we already do? How do we know when we're collaborating well? And while the experiences collected were diverse, two clear trends emerged.
- Successful collaboration depends on building resources and knowledge around the process of collaboration, including understanding what it means to collaborate well, how to access, grow, and share resources (including money, data, knowledge, and skills) and how to value returns on investment.
- Successful collaboration requires developing strong connections and communication skills, including finding ways of coming together across differences in values and to work from intersectional lenses to advance multiple related goals and the importance of creating new narratives to generate awareness, new mindsets and inspire action.