The literature review undertaken as part of the evaluation (Lennie, 2007) provides details of the many strategies and steps that can be taken to increase the sustainability, viability and success of MTSCs. They were summarised in this report as follows:
5.4.1 Strategies related to government and community support
- Clear support from all levels of government expressed through policies and the commitment of adequate resources.
- Community and stakeholder ownership and support, built through direct democratic participation in decision making.
- Conducting needs assessments.
- Using inclusive consultation processes.
- History of cooperation or collaboration in the community.
5.4.2 Strategies related to planning and implementation of initiatives
Membership characteristics and relationship management
- High level leadership and commitment from senior management and boards.
- Identification and involvement of passionate champions.
- Developing stable and sustainable working relationships – this requires building effective relationships, and relationship management. The following characteristics of members involved in successful and sustainable collaborative initiatives have been identified:
- Mutual respect, understanding and trust, shared norms and values
- Willingness to share ideas and make compromises when agency interests conflict
- Flexible, open to innovation, yet pragmatic
- Commitment and good will of those directly affected by the initiative and at multiple levels of the organisation
- Highly motivated.
Processes and structures
- Developing an appropriate coordinating structure and capacity, including a core team that steers the process, made up of competent, highly motivated people.
- Bringing new partners on board in the initial stages.
- Developing efficient, accountable, transparent and appropriate administrative structures and arrangements.
- Progressive refinement of governance arrangements and shared power among all stakeholder groups.
- Clear definition of roles and responsibility.
- Effective facilitation of planning sessions and meetings.
- Ongoing flexibility at all levels and flexibility in the design of collaboration arrangements.
Purpose and vision
- Understanding the local ‘big picture’.
- Strong, clear, appropriate and common mission, vision, purpose and values.
- Clear objectives, achievable, unambiguous goals.
- Jointly agreed outcomes.
Approach and culture
- Adopting a holistic, community development approach.
- Developing a culture based on service excellence, continuous learning and improvement.
- Taking a client-focused approach to service delivery.
- Ongoing capacity building and training.
Planning and resources
- Dedicating sufficient staff time for planning, skills training, evaluation and other key activities.
- Undertaking a full analysis of costs, benefits and financial impact of the initiative.
- Developing a clear ‘theory of resources’ - a clear concept early in the life of the initiative about where its resources for the future are coming from.
- Desirable building location and good quality, appropriate accommodation and resourcing.
5.4.3 Strategies related to the ongoing operation of initiatives
Long-term planning and funding mechanisms
- Developing longer-range strategic plans.
- Flexibility in funding mechanisms.
Monitoring and evaluation
- Developing a realistic and effective framework for the ongoing, long-term monitoring and evaluation of outcomes, performance and process. Monitoring and evaluation processes need to be built into initiatives.
- Importance is given to evaluating the planning, implementation and collaboration process.
- Implementation of a strong accountability framework.
Communication, networks and coordination
- Undertaking a dedicated marketing/communication campaign to communicate the initiative and mobilise stakeholder support.
- Sufficient investment in and use of information technology for sharing records and information, networking and communication, and improving efficiency and productivity
- Ongoing community and stakeholder engagement.
- Development of service networks that support coordination in the field with parallel coordination within government and planning bodies.
- Maintaining good communication and linkages between the organisations involved.
- Operation of feedback loops between workers.
Maintaining motivation and building community
- Maintaining motivation for sustaining partnerships.
- Building a sense of community among centre tenants.
- Building organisational and stakeholder readiness for change.
- Welcoming and orienting new staff and program stakeholders.
- Recycling capacity building activities with new staff and leaders.
- Adopting a range of dispute management strategies.
- Obtaining consent from clients.
- Building trusted online services.
- Empowering clients to share information.
5.4.4 Success factors in the MTSC Pilots Project
The following summarises the major things that were identified as having worked well in the MTSC Pilots Project:
Credible departmental staff and commitment of those involved
- Where there was involvement of consistent departmental staff with local credibility.
- Departmental staff who were dedicated and committed to making it work.
- The partner organisations staying on through extended time frames.
- The strong commitment of several key drivers in the NGOs involved to the project outcome and the process.
Relationship building and cooperation
- Attempts to build and maintain good relationships within consortia and with government staff and stakeholders.
- The organisations involved working cooperatively together and forming a close collaborative bond.
- Building funding relationships with other relevant departments and agencies.
Active involvement and support of key departmental staff and agencies
- Employment of local project officers who were responsible for developing and supporting the consortiums. The input and assistance from some local departmental staff was seen as ‘invaluable’.
- The active involvement of the Asset Management and Capital Works branch. This was seen as essential to managing the risks involved in acquiring property.
Energy, flexibility and ability to ‘embrace the new’
- Willingness to put energy into the project in the early phases.
- Capacity for flexibility so that blowouts in timelines and budgets could be dealt with without derailing the initiative.
- Ability of organisations to extend themselves and embrace new concepts.
Communication and information sharing
- Regular monthly reporting facilitated good communication between regional and head office staff in various sections.
- Teleconferences involving staff in head office and the regional sites facilitated some sharing of ideas and processes.
- When there was clear and consistent communication.
- The NGOs feeling able to be open about concerns with some regional project staff.
- Regular meetings with consortia to discuss issues and ‘get firm answers’ to their questions.
Visioning, planning and decision-making
- Holding visioning workshops for the NGOs involved.
- Conducting targeted workshops with consortium organisations.
- Implementing strategic and operational planning.
- Planning at the regional/consortium level. Maintaining a plan to guide action and ensure continuing progress.
- Forming sub-committees of the consortium management committee to plan and make progress on particular areas of development (human resources, finance, publicity, etc).
- Using fair decision making processes.
Resources and training
- The department providing adequate resources to support the consortiums.
- Providing training in change management and other topics for consortium partners.
5.4.5 Other learnings and suggestions for improvement
The following additional learnings and suggestions for improvement were identified by DoC staff and consortia members who completed questionnaires:
- Selection of tenants: Tenants need to be selected who are aligned to project goals.
- Initial planning, consultation and engagement: All relevant stakeholders need to be involved and engaged in the initial planning, design, implementation and consultation process.
- Using longer and more realistic timeframes, including to develop business cases and to ‘cement consortium relationships’. There was a need to recognise that ‘the project can only proceed at the pace of the volunteer committees’. It also needed to recognise ‘the constraints faced by volunteer management committees and part time workers in meetingand reviewing information in limited time frames’.
- Developing shared understanding of all relevant issues and the complexity of the process of creating an effective collaboration.
- Effective communication: Using more streamlined and open communication processes. This requires the development of an effective communication strategy for both internal and external partners.
- Employment of consistent project staff in the pilot sites. Project staff need to be skilled in managing the project, able to commit to the life of the project, and to have a clear understanding of the project.
- Including reflections on process, planning and implementation in monthly meeting agendas.
- The process needed to be ‘sector-driven not Departmental-driven so that mutual outcomes can be achieved’.
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