Collaboration – How Can Something So Simple Be So Hard

There is rarely a project that is an island.  Rarely a process that resides within only one department.

That being the case one would have thought more time would have been spent assessing how organisations enhance collaboration across groups – whether they be teams, divisions, companies, industries or countries.

In an interesting Valentine’s Day release, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysed this very issue in its report Implementation Approaches Used to Enhance Collaboration in Interagency Groups.

For the purposes of this review, the report noted:

Many of the meaningful results that the  federal government seeks to achieve require the coordinated efforts of more than one federal agency, level of  government, or sector.

The GAO selected four interagency groups that met its key practices for enhancing and sustaining collaboration to learn about the approaches they used and found to be successful.

What they found is not the proverbial rocket science.  Yet McLeod Governance and nearly every auditor ever to have walked the halls of accountability would be bathing in gold if a dollar was given for every time that these issues have arisen in cross functional projects.

The report noted some of the questions that need to be asked:

  • Bridging Organizational Cultures: What are the missions and organizational cultures of the participating agencies? Have agencies agreed on common terminology and definitions?
  • Leadership: How will leadership be sustained over the long term? If leadership is shared, have roles and responsibilities been clearly identified and agreed upon?
  • Clarity of Roles and Responsibilities: Have participating agencies clarified roles and responsibilities?
  • Participants: Have all relevant participants been included? Do they have the ability to commit resources for their agency?
  • Resources: How will the collaborative mechanism be funded and staffed? Have online collaboration tools been developed?
  • Written Guidance and Agreements: If appropriate, have participating agencies documented their agreement regarding how they will be collaborating? Have they developed ways to continually update and monitor these agreements?

The report placed the need for effective coordination in the following context:

The current federal budget situation poses additional challenges for  agencies. Federal agencies will need to work even more closely with other agencies to leverage more limited resources to achieve their missions in the current fiscally constrained environment.

There isnt an organisation alive today for whom that should not resonate.


Download PDF

Subscribe to Receive Our Email Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.