What may go wrong and prevention strategies

Communication: key staff are unable or unwilling to communicate effectively with other employees.

  • Develop and implement an organisational communication plan, using emails, team/staff meetings and workshops.
  • Mentor people to improve communication skills.

Finance: predicted cost savings from the collaboration are smaller than expected.

  • Have a contingency plan to further reduce costs in other ways if necessary.
  • Identify the reasons that the expect savings did not occur and see if these can be remedied.

Implementation: People pay lip service to the collaboration but continue to do what they have always done.

  • Ensure that there are very clear documented protocols and schedules of delegation to support the new collaborative approaches.

Commitment: feedback and people’s behavior indicate that interest in the collaboration is waning.

  • Bring people together to talk about the reasons for their lack of enthusiasm, revisit the benefits of the collaboration and revise plans and strategies if necessary.

Delays: The collaboration process falls behind its scheduled timeframe.

  • Manage all the things within your control: identify reasons for the delays and problem solve ways around them.Where the delay is outside your control, (for example: funding is delayed or necessary premises aren’t ready on time) ensure that everyone is aware of the reasons for the delay and reminded of the organisational commitment to the process.

Training: available training for required new skill sets is not available locally.

  • Mentor with your own organisation.
  • Second people to different organisations to build skills.
  • Send key people away for training and have them instruct other staff on their return.
  • Look for technologies that can support skills development: online learning; video conferencing.

Timescale: Boards and funding bodies are impatient for results Look for “low hanging fruit”: simple projects that will demonstrate the capacity of collaboration partners to work together.

  • Start with coordinated and simple collaborative activities (events, training days and resource sharing) to develop trust and momentum and then move to more complex collaborations and case management.

Troubleshooting: complex and unexpected problems arise that may disrupt the whole collaborative and change processes.

  • Build on the organisational learning culture that identifies problems as another challenge to be solved.
  • Set up special working groups to focus on these issues if necessary.

Active internal organisational resistance: when experiencing change people go through a range of emotional reactions from passivity and denial, to anger and depression and finally to acceptance.

  • Be on the watch for hidden resistance: when it is in the open you can deal with it.
  • Always be open about potential negative effects of the collaboration.
  • Recognise that emotion is not answered by reason but depends upon appropriate emotional reassurance.
  • Do not confuse criticism with resistance, as the criticism may be valid.
  • Identify collaboration champions that will help you “sell” the benefits of the collaboration and respond to the critics and traditionalists.

Things don’t go according to plan: life is full of surprises.

  • Test your plans where practical.
  • Start collaborative activities on a small scale to build trust.
  • Have regular meetings with relevant people to ensure that things are on track.
  • Analyse problems and look for ways around tem.
  • Revisit contingency plans.

Adapted from Table: “Preparing Contingency Plans” p729 Essential Manager’s Manual. Robert Heller & Tim Hindle: Dorling Kindersley Limited, London

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