This post originally appeared on the Tamarack Institute’s blog on January 13.


Champions of a cause often are eager to convene a collaboration to catalyze change. However, convening stakeholders without first assessing whether the conditions are right and the essential elements are in place is a recipe for coblaboration. The evil twin of collaboration, coblaboration only results in redundant meetings, assignment of blame and little change.

Collaboration is something that we are often encouraged to do, but rarely told how to do well. As a collaboration of funders that itself supports cross-sector collaborations, The Fund for Our Economic Future believes the “how” of collaboration is vitally important. The Fund is made up of dozens of foundations, educational institutions, health care systems, companies, and governmental units that pool their dollars, leadership and “know how” to advance efforts to increase job creation, job preparation and job access. The Fund designed and continues to support several cross-sector collaborations. Through that work, it has learned the perils of pushing for collaboration before critical preconditions are met, and that effective collaborations require the right kind of process, capacity and leadership.

The Fund recently published Collaboration: A Handbook that shares key lessons learned from nurturing collaborations over the last 13 years.  It is a practical guide for funders, nonprofit leaders and other advocates of community change who want to avoid the high cost of failed collaborations – also known as coblaboration. Engaging diverse stakeholders takes time and resources, doing it poorly only generates a lot of talk, too many opinions and not enough change.

Continue to the full post here.