Collaboration Handbook

Collaboration is everywhere these days—shaping everything from the clothes we wear and the music we listen to, to the quality of teaching and wellbeing in the workplace. So it’s no surprise it means different things to different people.  


The Fund for Our Economic Future embodies, promotes and supports a particular kind of collaboration that engages diverse, independent stakeholders who assume shared responsibility for achieving common goals. This specific kind of collaboration can result in enduring, positive community change that we can see, feel and touch. Yet, that change remains elusive for many.


Thus, we set out to create a resource guide for civic leaders grappling with collaboration in their communities. 


In "Collaboration: A Handbook from the Fund for Our Economic Future,” author Chris Thompson encapsulates the Fund's lessons from our experiences operating within multiple collaborative environments over the last 12 years and offers concrete guidance on how to move from "coblaboration" to true, effective collaboration. 


Collaboration is both a process and a set of behaviors. The Fund for Our Economic Future has learned how to design and implement processes that are required to catalyze enduring, positive change. And we have learned what behaviors, particularly the behaviors of key leaders within the complex civic systems in which we work (e.g., workforce development), foster effective collaboration. These lessons are relevant to achieving change in other complex civic systems, including public health, education, housing, and safety, that shape the quality of life in our communities.


The collaboration process can vary widely, but our experiences teach us that: (1) Before collaboration is even possible, specific preconditions need to be met; and (2) Effective collaborations all have three common elements—capacity, process and leadership.

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