April 2018: Collaboration: Strengths and Challenges

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

April 2018 
In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Maureen Gallagher offers insights in to collaboration her article, ” Collaboration: Strengths and Challenges “

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The Reid Group News

  • Tom Reid and John Reid have been hired by the Bishops in California to conduct the search for a new Executive Director for the California Catholic Conference. If you are interested in the position or know someone who might be, please contact us at 206-947-1055.
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid submitted their final report on a search for a new Executive Director of the Corporation for Sponsored Ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. They are now conducting a second Search for the new Director of Mission Integration.
  • John Reid has been hired by Our Lady of the Lake Parish and School to facilitate a One OLL planning process this year.
  • John Reid facilitated a Seattle University Cabinet Retreat for leadership focused on an action plan for living out the university’s mission and vision.
  • Maureen Gallagher facilitated a series of conversations in English, simultaneously translated into Spanish and French, entitled, “Spirituality of Community Life” in Montreal Canada for the Sisters of Providence provincial leadership teams.
  • Maureen Gallagher facilitated Community Days for the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross in April.
  • The Reid Group is a strategic partner with Tryon Clear View Group, a cost reduction company that specializes in Purchase Services Audits where they identify, verify and recover billing errors, vendor overcharges which are refundable to organizations.  They then secure these reimbursements from the vendors.  In addition to telecommunication, copiers, waste management and utilities charges, they also audit postal services and credit card processing. The only fee paid by the client is a percentage of the actual savings.  The first two contracts secured by this strategic partnership are a college and a Catholic parish; we have received the first report of savings for one of these contracts which showed savings of $60,000 over the next five years in telecommunications alone.   If you are interested in this service, contact us at info@TheReidGroup.biz.
  • Our Strategic Partner Joe Sankovich has developed an important resource for dioceses and parishes with cemeteries called TOOLBOX FOR PARISH CEMETERIES. For more information go to: sankovich.com. Joe Sankovich, former director of cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and owner of Sankovich & Associates since 1990, has developed an educational tool for parishes with their own Catholic cemeteries.  Directed to pastors, parish business managers, cemetery managers/sextons/superintendents, parish cemetery advisory board members and parish finance council members, the six hard copy manuals are formatted in the same fashion as the early diocesan teaching documents for the Second Vatican Council.  Sankovich waited until he had worked with/in more than 1,200 parish cemeteries in different areas of the United States, and conducted more than 100 seminars with pastors, parish and cemetery employees/volunteers, to organize and format these manuals.
  • The Reid Group is also a strategic partner with The Steier Group. The Steier Group is a national, capital campaign fundraising firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas. They provide nonprofits with customized campaign planning studies, guidance from a team of expert project managers and strategic insight designed to help our clients reach their fundraising goals. Contact Nic Prenger, Steier Group president, for more information about the firm’s services. http://www.steiergroup.com.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

  Collaboration: Strengths and Challenges

Maureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant
What is Collaboration?
Collaboration is a process where two or more people, groups or organizations come together to accomplish a needed task. For instance, two parishes plan and execute joint human concerns projects; three schools focus on a coordinated science project; two religious communities come together to share living space, ministries or care for the elderly; two colleges extend support for a research project. Collaboration involves sharing projects with a common goal in mind.
Why Collaborate?
1.      Collaboration is an example of good stewardship of human and financial resources . In many cases, collaboration diminishes the need for separate staff to accomplish a particular job or a ministry. For instance, a finance manager, depending upon the size of the institutions, might be able to share time and effort by working with different organizations. Two parishes might collaborate on a youth ministry program and eliminate unneeded staff. This can save money by avoiding duplication. It also can free up some staff and financial resources for a new ministry or one that is not in existence at either parish. Two religious communities might share health care facilities and/or professional staff.
2.      Collaboration can increase the quality of programs.
The old saying is “two heads are better than one” can apply in collaboration. A different set of skills may be needed to accomplish an administrative job, as well as develop a new program. One person may not have both set of skills. In such a case two people or three organizations can share staff, when different gifts, abilities and experiences are called for.
Two or three people from one or multiple organizations working together often will generate new and creative ideas that neither one would develop alone.
3.      Collaboration often bonds people for emotional, psychological, spiritual and professional support.
a.      .In collaboration there are many opportunities for bonding and mutual support. People often have more energy to take on projects that call for creativity or courage when they are part of a group that supports new ideas and “risk taking.”
b.      In faith-based groups spirituality is integrated into collaborative projects. Prayer and quiet reflection are often regular practices. At other times spiritual charisms are exercised, built on specific customs, often rooted in the Paschal Mystery.
c.      Professionally, it is often very effective to deal with large or even national social justice issues collaboratively. For instance, a college may want to start a program on ecology and local environmental concerns. Because of the political atmosphere they may decide to do it in collaboration with other institutes of higher education or local agencies that share the same values.
d.       In another instance, a religious group desires to address homelessness. They decide to restore an old school into low income housing where a requirement is that the residents be part of an education program. To do this they work together in a collaborative fashion with local sponsors of “GED” programs, junior colleges or trade schools. 
The chances of being successful are enhanced through collaborative mutual relationships. A sense of working together, bonding, sharing spirituality for the sake of the mission and fruitful change builds a great sense of community.
What are the Challenges in Collaboration?
1.      Trust is the first thing that needs to be established among collaborators.
There are many aspects of trusting. The need to have and work on mutually agreed upon goals is paramount to collaborating on projects. Believing that all members of the team will work diligently for the same goal is important and integral to positive achievements. Trusting that there will be loyalty amongst those working together is essential.
2.      Another challenge in collaborative efforts is the ability to “let go” of control.  
This is particularly difficult when the task or project is a “pet” one, created by an individual in the collaborative partnership. Collaboration assumes joint decision making in many aspects of the relationship. Shared outcomes may differ to some degree and need to be resolved. Overcoming “the way we always do it” can be a big challenge.
3.      Fear that a particular organization, ministry or position will be changed diminished or ended are inherent in some collaborations, especially where there are some financial or membership issues.
Change is always intrinsic in collaboration. Sometimes the change is minor as in two organizations collaborating on an adult education program or a field trip, etc. 
At other times change can lead to name changes in projects, when collaboration leads to mergers or new identities. Such is case in mergers of parishes or schools. As difficult as mergers can be, they are less problematic, if the entities have collaborated on projects before they merge. Collaboration, as described in the first section of this article, can lead to developing significant relationships, which eases the pain of mergers.
Another change that may occur, especially in more radical collaboration, is the need to do a new and collaborative strategic plan. That takes a lot of time, similar assumptions and good relationships. Initially there may be resistance to planning, as “we already have one that we worked on before” or more cynical expressions such as “why bother, no one listens to us anyway.”. Doing a collaborative strategic plan may take an outside facilitator to help moderate discussion around different assumptions or use of resources. 
There is the fear that the collaboration may not work, especially if there is a change in leadership in the organization, parish, school or religious congregation. The anxiety is that the collaboration could be stopped or radically changed by a new leader. Such fears are usually somewhat alleviated by patience, understand and appropriated dialogue.
The fear of failure in important efforts of collaboration is real, often due to unforeseen circumstances. The value of collaboration, if a sense of community has been developed, is that the group deals with whatever did not work out, not just an individual or several participants. A group brainstorms and problem solves to determine a solution and understands it as a step along the journey—the big journey lead by the Spirit.

Maureen Gallagher is a Senior Partner with The Reid Group, a national consulting firm helping leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world in the areas of Strategic Planning, Leadership Formation, Leadership Search, Fund Development, Conflict Resolution and Meeting Design and Facilitation.  For more information about The Reid Group, its programs and services, visit our website:  www.TheReidGroup.biz.

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