Collaboration Summary #1

I'm currently doing some research on collaboration and am putting together some short summaries of the works I'm reading. Here is one for "Collaboration: What Makes it Work".

Collaboration: What Makes it Work by Paul W. Mattessich, Marta Murray-Close and Barbara R. Monsey

In Collaboration: What Makes It Work the authors have aggregated dozens of studies about collaboration to come up with a list of essential factors for successful collaboration. In the context of this book the type of collaboration being discussed is between service organizations such as non-profit neighborhood clinics, after school programs, local government, and the like. In the book they briefly describe 20 success factors. Some factors don't seem directly applicable to artists, but some are easily translated. The factors are divided into three categories - environment, membership characteristics, process & structure, communication and purpose. I have listed the factors that I feel are essential to successful collaboration between artists.

A. History of collaboration or cooperation: "Other things being equal, collaborative efforts will most likely succeed where cooperative or collaborative activity has a history or is encouraged." (pg. 12)

Membership Characteristics:
A. Mutual respect, understanding, and trust: "Members of the collaborative group share an understanding and respect for each other". (pg 14) The authors also suggest, "At the very beginning of an effort, collaborating partners should temporarily set aside the purpose of the collaboration and devote energy to learning about each other." (14)
B. Members see collaboration as in their self-interest: "Collaborating partners believe that they will benefit from their involvement in the collaboration" (16)
C. Ability to Compromise: "Collaborating partners are able to compromise, since the many decisions within a collaborative effort cannot possibly fit the preferences of every member perfectly." (17)

Process and Structure:
A. Members share a stake in both process and outcome: Members of a collaborative group fell "ownership" of both the way the group works and the results or products of its work." (18)
B Flexibility: "Collaborative groups need to be flexible both in their structure and in their methods." (20)
C. Development of clear roles and policy guidelines: "Members need to discuss the roles, rights, and responsibilities of the partners, reach agreement on these, and clearly communicate them to all relevant parties. Letters of agreement may be helpful." (20) And, "Members' true interests and strengths should be considered." (21)

A. Open and frequent communication: "Collaborative group members interact often, update one another, discuss issues openly, and convey all necessary information to one another" (23). And, "Communication strategies must be planned to reflect the diverse communications styles of the members of the collaborative group."
B. Established informal relationships and communication links: "In addition to formal channels of communication, members establish personal connections - producing a better, more informed,and cohesive group working on a common project." (24)

A Concrete, attainable goals and objectives: "Goals and objectives of the collaborative group are clear to all partners, and can realistically be attained." (25)
B. Shared Vision: "Collaborating partners have the same vision, with clearly agreed-upon mission, objectives, and strategy." (26)
C. Unique Purpose: "The mission and goals of a collaborative group must create a "sphere of activity." (26)

A. Sufficient funds, staff, materials, and time: the group needs to have adequate funding and staff time to achieve its goals.
B. Skilled leadership: "The individual who provides leadership for the collaborative group has organizing and interpersonal skills, and carries out the role with fairness." (28

One other quote that seems important: "The collaborative process should not be rushed. Solid relationships take time to develop, and goals are more easily attained when pursued with patience and persistence." (27)


Site Specific Slide Show

Here's a little slide show of some photos from a number of site specific performances we've done over the last couple of years.