What does collaboration mean?

Posted on March 09, 2011 by Pam Truitt

What is collaboration?  Are the 10 people in the photo above linked together by pure strength or is there a measure of coordination/collaboration involved?

Wikipedia (my new favorite information source) has a pretty good, but wordy, definition: Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

The key word for me is ‘intersection of common goals’.

Why am I asking this question?  Because it’s part of the name of my initiative and because I have the privilege of working with La Piana Consulting to develop the Collaborative Restructuring Initiative.

La Piana describes collaboration as:  A relationship whereby two or more organizations confer, share information, or work together toward some mutual benefit while maintaining separate organizations, distributed decision-making power, and organizational autonomy. Such relationships typically do not involve a permanent organizational commitment.

There are many, many good examples of nonprofit collaborations. In fact, the Lodestar Foundation created the Collaboration Prize to reward nonprofits for their efforts. If you cruise the website where the information is stored (Foundation Center) you’ll be able find many different examples in many differently locations.  While you’re there, check out David La Piana’s podcast on how nonprofits can get started.

So, what does collaboration mean in your world?

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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