Synergy is a key indicator for measuring effective and ineffective collaboration. This indicator emerged in my research that contributed to the scholarship on community partners. The research deepened our understanding of what community partners look for and expect in successful civic partnerships with higher education. The “effective” and “ineffective” descriptors provide helpful, measurable criteria to keep in mind when establishing, monitoring, and evaluating a collaborative partnership.
- Acknowledges that both partners are better off working together than separately, creating a mutuality that results in higher productivity and progress toward desired outcomes
- Recognizes the community partner adds value to student education by providing practical experience and that students receive real-world lessons in servant leadership
- Demonstrates that faculty gain more experience in the areas of practice and direct service
- Creates feeling of pleasure from collaboration
- Produces happiness with results of the partnership
- Believes parties’ constituencies mutually benefit from the relationship
- Permits patronizing attitude toward community partner on the part of faculty and administrators
- Exhibits academic arrogance on part of tenured faculty who are disconnected from direct-service providers
- Views practice as inferior to theory
- Places students in the awkward situation of brokering the relationship between faculty and community partner, making them the glue that holds the partnership together
Many other descriptors could be added to this initial list, but it does give us a place to start when entering into collaboration. The full list of indicators can be found at Community Partners Indicators of Engagement: An Action Research Study on Campus-Community Partnership.
Paul Erdős provided us with a formula for determining “collaborative distance.” If you think about it in other terms, he gave us a mathematical road for collaborative closeness. Since it through collaboration that people are brought together to work on challenges, explore opportunities, seek solutions, and, ultimately, create collective impact, as we pursue collaborative work, our potential for success increases exponentially as we increase our Erdős number. k + 1 = collaborative closeness.
TEDxDayton 2014 had many rich talks throughout the day. This tongue and cheek talk on collaboration by Stephen and Joel Levinson gives us a personal look into collaboration and not-collaboration. Keeping the content lighthearted and, as a result, definitely engaging, the Levinson brothers share good tips we can employ when we are in the messiness of our collaborative work.
Acts of Collaboration happen all the time, but they are not accidental. Today, SOCHE and its college and university members teamed up with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as part of the Talent Pipeline Initiative to host the first ever Wright-Patterson Internship Fair. This collaborative effort brought more than 800 students to the National Museum of the US Air Force to meet with employers on base and off base from aerospace and defense. There is no shortage of young, passionate talent in southwest Ohio and collaborative efforts like today are bridging college students with industry in new and productive ways. Cheers to everyone involved!
Higher Collaboration is the title of a book I am currently working on with my colleague Ty Buckman. The table of contents are emerging along these lines:
Table of contents
- Brief history of collaboration
- Contemporary challenges to higher education
- Collaboration as THE strategic future
- Common practices
- Unique possibilities
- Pipedream solutions
- Collaborative ROI
- Parochial obstacle
- Getting to higher collaboration through Leadership
Stay tuned for snippets in the coming months. In meantime, send examples of practices you’ve seen work or not work in higher ed.
One of my favorite quotes is by the Japanese poet Ryonuske Satoro, who said “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” This quote perfectly captures the power and scale of collaboration, acknowledging the vast and limitless potential when we approach life through collaborative thinking.
Together we are an ocean…an ocean of ideas, energies, minds, solutions…an ocean of endless possibility.
This seems like a good place to capture a few old blog posts I (and also David Miler) wrote for Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group back in 2009-10 during the height of the great recession, which is evident in a few of them in terms of the focus of the content. While the thoughts held relevance then, they still do today as higher ed continues to ponder how to innovate its way into the future. If only higher ed would spend more time pondering how to collaborate its way into the future, because the future is highly dependent on employing deliberative collaborative thinking.