A very important strategy within any change fostered in this field is to strengthen your potential for collaboration and coordination so as to capitalize on the synergies and strengths of others. Personal efforts usually hit a wall. The need for coordinated action is clear if one intends to shift a complex system. So, how are you currently collaborating with others and coordinating efforts?
Strength in numbers is a well-known political strategy for taking action. This is not at all new. However, the costs of collaboration and coordination are not new either and should not be underestimated.
Collective action, an obvious option to overcome the limits of personal influence, can take place within an as well as organization as well as across organizations. Efforts within the organization will probably be geared towards challenges and opportunities in the State agency´s main dimensions: culture, capacity, management and processes and resources. Linking with stakeholders from other organizations (governmental and non-governmental) will be a good opportunity to develop and strengthen effective relationships that nurture the interaction between research and policy.
The degree and depth of collective efforts will vary according to you and your organization´s potential to convene and maintain collaborative processes through three main phases: (i) problem setting, (ii) direction setting, and (iii) implementation.
This not only depends on the existing culture of working with others, but as well on the collaborative skills and experience of relevant stakeholders around the interaction between research and policy. Do you think your collaboration is good enough for the three phases? Or do you find there is need to work out that muscle?
Collective impact is an approach that is increasingly generating evidence on how change efforts, conducted under a certain set of conditions, are yielding positive changes in the communities where they take place.
Mostly interesting, this approach has found that often the problem is not the lack of resources, i.e. funds to conduct policy relevant research or skilled researchers who can conduct this type of research. Previously unnoticed solutions and resources from inside or outside the community are identified and adopted. Existing organizations find new ways of working together that produce better outcomes.
To increase the potential impact of your change efforts, collaboration with others is a must. Being politically savvy on whom to bring into the table and how to make the pieces of a complex puzzle fit better is a clear challenge. We share some guiding questions to inform your potential partnerships and relationships:
• Who would share your agenda regarding the promotion of the use of research in policy? Whose agendas would present conflicts with this but should be considered due to their role in policy decision and management?
• How strong is your organizational culture in terms of collaboration? How do current management processes enable or hinder coordination with other governmental institutions? Where among these are the low hanging fruits for change?
• Which existing intra and inter-relationships should you keep nurturing or not and what are they key players you should being engaging with?
• Who should be engaged in establishing a new direction in terms of the way research is currently being seized/produced?
One baby step: make a quick laundry list of your current collaborations (individuals and organizations). Select those who have demonstrated better capacity to cooperate and coordinate and invite them to a joint meeting. In that meeting, brainstorm together ideas on what you could do together to foster a more strategic use of evidence in policy.
For more on Collaboration and Coordination see the following Useful tools:• Dialogue Mapping