The Good Collaboration Toolkit

Decorative: The Good Collaboration Toolkit word cloud from the opening web page


"The Good Collaboration Toolkit" (web site) is "a collection of materials [for Higher Education by Harvard's Project Zero] designed to help individuals develop, nurture, and reflect on good collaborations."

1. Quandaries: Some Reasons to Use This Toolkit

  • "You have started a collaboration but who should provide leadership is unclear. (Leadership Driven)"
  • "You have a launched a collaboration and are discovering that the values of your organization clash with those of another member organization. (Ethically Oriented)"
  • "You have a set of meetings, and at each one, the time seems wasted. (Time Well Spent)"
  • "You meet regularly, but there is no clear communication between meetings, thus limiting progress that can be made. (Excellently Executed)"
  • "You have all the 'right' partners, but you do not feel that your voice is heard and included by other members." (Engaging for Participants)"
  • "You do not know or do not endorse the mission of the collaboration. (Mission Focused)"
  • "You spend more time making sure that collaborators are satisfied and happy, rather than focusing on the work that needs to be done. (Nurtured Continuously)"
  • "You have not pondered the intended outcome of the collaboration. (Solution Inspired)"

2. Checklist

"What do I need to do in order to develop and nurture 'good collaboration'?" 

"If you answer No to any of these questions, you may find it helpful to look at the materials in the corresponding ELEMENTS page specified in the right-hand column."

YES NO Question Corresponding Element
 ☐  ☐ Do you discuss the purpose of the collaboration? Is there agreement about the vision among collaborators? Mission Focused
 ☐  ☐ Is there a clear leadership/rotation of leadership for the collaboration? Leadership Driven
 ☐  ☐ Is there a documented scope of work, with an associated timeline? Time Well Spent
 ☐  ☐ Do you discuss goals and accountability to achieve these goals? Mission Focused
 ☐  ☐ Are people clear about their roles in the collaboration? Excellently Executed
 ☐  ☐ Do you discuss the collaborators’ own interests, needs and values? Engaging for Participants
 ☐  ☐ Do you discuss methods of communication and decision-making? Excellently Executed
 ☐  ☐ Are all of the voices of the collaborators being heard? Ethically Oriented
 ☐  ☐ Are all collaborators invested in the work? Engaging for Participants
 ☐  ☐ Is the work getting done? Time Well Spent
 ☐  ☐ Are there obstacles that need to be discussed? Nurtured Continuously
 ☐  ☐ Are supports communicated and shared? Nurtured Continuously
 ☐  ☐ Is there agreement about a “product” or outcome for the collaboration? Solution Inspired

3. Elements

For each of these elements, the follow links provides "Key Questions to Be Answered," informative "Narratives," and implementable "Activities."

4. Key Questions to Be Answered

a. Excellently Executed:

  • "What are the factors that support excellent execution?"
  • "What are the factors that hinder excellent execution?"
  • "What can you do to support excellent execution?"

b. Leadership Driven:

  • "What are the skills necessary to lead a collaboration?"
  • "How is leadership addressed in your collaboration?"
  • "How can individuals draw upon their own strengths to lead a collaboration?"

c. Engaging for Participants:

  • "What helps people to get engaged in a collaboration?"
  • "Are you 'engaged' in your collaboration? Are others 'engaged'? Why is 'engagement' important?"
  • "What leads to dis-engagement in a collaboration?"

d. Mission Focused:

  • "How can individuals develop a common mission for a collaboration?"
  • "Can you describe the mission of your collaboration?"
  • "How would others in the collaboration describe the mission?"

e. Ethically Oriented:

  • "What do 'ethics' look like in collaborative work? Is your collaboration ethically oriented?"
  • "How can individuals create the conditions for “good” ethical behavior in a collaboration?"
  • "How can individuals avoid situations in a collaboration that might elicit 'poor' or 'bad' ethical behavior?"

f. Nurtured Continuously:

  • "What factors help individuals to feel nurtured during collaborations?"
  • "What makes you feel nurtured during collaborations?"

g. Time Well Spent:

  • "How do you define time well spent?"
  • "How can you help to ensure individuals use time well during a collaboration?"
  • "How can collaborators intervene when time is not being used well?"

h. Solution Inspired:

  • "How can individuals structure a collaboration to ensure a focus on the solutions and outcomes?"
  • "What is the appropriate balance of 'process' and 'product' for a collaboration?"
  • "Why is keeping a balance important?"
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