Giving Compass' Take:

• Ananthapadmanabhan Guruswamy unpacks barriers to collaboration and urges players in the social sector to work intentionally to overcome them to increase impact. 

• Which of these barriers have you encountered in your work? Can you and/or your organization work to address these barriers directly? 

• Read a roadmap to effective collaboration

In the abstract, the need, even the imperative, to collaborate is fairly obvious because everyone understands that given the scale and complexity of the problems facing the world, no one player can do everything, or anything, of consequence.

However, despite this understanding, we don’t see any real collaboration happening. The question to be asked therefore is—why aren’t people collaborating, despite the obvious stated advantages of doing so?

The barriers to collaboration

  • We fail to recognize that we are part of an ecosystem
  • There is conflict between competition and collaboration
  • There is no vantage point in our ecosystem

In our sector today, most conversations have moved to the ‘how-to-collaborate’ mode, a seemingly sensible, practical way of implementing an idea that we all agree upon. On reflection however, it seems to me that the first and possibly a very big barrier to collaboration is that it is a specific mindset that all actors (starting with oneself) should actively and consciously cultivate.

The tools of collaboration, the ‘how-to’—multi-stakeholder dialogues, sustained discussions, working together on projects, developing a shared theory of change, and so on—will start to have traction only if we bring this mindset to the situation.

In conclusion, collaboration is neither ‘natural’ or ‘inevitable’. It is also not primarily a ‘know-how’, a technique and a tool kit. It is at its heart a conscious mindset that when cultivated and brought to bear on situations and interactions can leverage the tools we have to deliver actual collaboration.

Read the full article about barriers to collaboration by Ananthapadmanabhan Guruswamy at India Development Review.