Collaboration developing collaborative strategiesThere has been a renewed emphasis on collaboration in the context of increased pressure on public services.  When increasing resource constraints point towards radical solutions, ideas associated with collaboration have come to the fore.

This is one of our Strategic Solution consultancy reports, aimed at bringing the key issues and influential thinking on strategic topics together to help managers make informed decisions.

Sharing has always been an important aspect of our public services. The current debate uses a wide ranging terminology encompassing language such as: partnerships; joined-up working; shared services; and shared budgets.  Each of these indicates a key focus on sharing and relationships. As well as signalling significant opportunity, they also imply a major challenge.

“The current financial climate heralds the possibility of a dramatic increase in collaboration, leading perhaps to the emergence of very different public services…… However, maintaining continuity of service whilst simultaneously establishing new shared arrangements is likely to be a major challenge.”[1]

Collaboration: Developing Collaborative Strategies

If collaboration is going to increase dramatically (according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) then it’s timely to take a fresh look at the issues:

  • Start with the heart of collaboration
  • Explore the roots of the idea: what gives you collaborative advantage?
  • Understand the nature of collaboration, by degree and by type
  • Why do public services collaborate?
  • What works?
  • Putting the ideas to work – developing collaborative strategies.

Collaboration is not new.  At an informal level, and often at the front-line, there have always been well-established relationships and good practice. However, these have tended to be smaller in scale.

What is new in the current context is the emphasis on seeking more significant gains from more effective and extensive collaboration.

Whilst collaboration is a developing field there is support for more than an intuitive notion that it seems to make sense.  There are some emerging building blocks and lessons to be applied, which means the idea has potential as a serious strategic solution.

[1] Rebalancing the Public Finances. The end of the beginning…. CIPFA/SOLACE 2010