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GO! A Blog about Growth & Opportunity

Collaboration is everywhere, and appears to mean just about anything.

Just in the last 24 hours, according to Google, we’ve been told that everyone from the Air Force to Kanye West, is working on a collaboration, and collaboration shapes everything from the quality of teaching to well-being in the workplace.

Suffice to say, there’s a whole lot of collaboration going on. But what does the Fund for Our Economic Future mean when it says it supports collaborations that advance Growth & Opportunity? Our Fund supports a lot of different types of collaborations, but most of all we support collaborations that transform job creation, job preparation and job access outcomes within Northeast Ohio. Such collaborations are designed to improve the performance of complex civic systems, therefore we refer to this type of collaboration as “civic collaboration.”

What follows is an attempt to clearly define civic collaboration and to provide a glossary of terms to increase our shared understanding of that definition.

Civic Collaboration: A process used by diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors within a civic system to develop and sustain a high-performing network able to identify and achieve shared goals by assuming shared responsibility for aligning resources, coordinating actions, measuring progress, and adapting.

Process: A structured set of functions and activities that enables stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of what is possible and a framework to collectively pursue shared goals.

Stakeholders: Organizations, entities and individuals who shape the performance and outcomes within a civic system, including funders, government entities, residents, businesses, and nonprofits.

Sectors: Defined segments of our communities. Examples include the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors.

Civic Systems: A set of independent, interconnected stakeholders that through their performance and their interactions influence key outcomes within our communities. Examples of civic systems that shape our job creation outcomes include: business development systems (made up of government economic development departments, chambers of commerce, economic development entities, etc.), entrepreneurship systems (made up of entrepreneurial assistance organizations, educational institutions that teach entrepreneurship, investment funds, government programs, etc.) and innovation systems (made up of research institutions, universities, hospitals, economic development organizations, etc.). Civic systems cannot be controlled by any single or small group of entities.

High-performing Network: An interdependent network created when independent stakeholders within a civic system agree to a shared set of performance standards, rules of interaction and goals, and agree to assume shared responsibility for achieving those goals.  

Shared Goals: Outcomes that independent stakeholders agree to pursue together.

Shared Responsibility: Independent stakeholders assume a portion of the responsibility for achieving shared goals. Stakeholders can articulate the specific actions that they will perform to fulfill their shared responsibility.

Resources: Financial, human and physical capital that is deployed to support individual or collective actions by stakeholders.

Actions: The programs, projects and initiatives undertaken by stakeholders, either acting individually or with others, that are designed to achieve specific outcomes, including achieving the shared goals identified by the high-performing network.

Measuring Goals: Stakeholders agree to set of metrics that will be used to measure progress toward the shared goals.

Adapt: Stakeholders in high-performing networks use metrics to better understand the performance and outcomes of the system and adapt so that their actions result in improved performance and outcomes.