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  • Writer's picturesabina strachan

Why collaborate? Collaborate to inspire...

Cartoon: person with idea 'Could collaboration get us from good to great?' imagining someone climbing a staircase trying to get to 'great'.

What are the benefits of collaborating for me, my team and our organisation? How would it change how we do things now? This blog shows how working collaboratively motivates staff, creates a sustainable improvement culture and what it takes to be an effective and efficient process. Let’s look at Frankie and Yasmin’s experience.

As a former intern himself, Frankie was asked to put a programme together for a new intern who would be recruited later in the year.

‘Great!’ thought Frankie, but where to start? Frankie thought back to his own experience. It had been good, but what could’ve made it better? The main thing was that, although he had been given quite a lot of autonomy which he’d enjoyed, most of his programme had already been set and he didn’t have as much opportunity as he would’ve liked to influence project outcomes.

Frankie wondered if this would’ve given him a more varied learning experience and helped grow his confidence to take on more challenging projects earlier? Maybe if he created a more flexible framework for the new intern that might be the way to go?

The mandatory areas and basic induction would be taken care of, so Frankie focussed on the main part of the programme and took time to chat with other former interns to see what kinds of outcomes they had been interested in, what had worked well, and what hadn’t quite met their expectations. A common theme was that they’d have welcomed more collaborative working on different aspects of their internship projects, but also, that they had appreciated working on complex tasks and working through challenging situations. As interns, they were all glad of back up but didn’t want to be over-reliant on support.

The internship programme Frankie designed looked like this:

  1. Provide additional capacity for two projects in their latter stages – the intern would gain experience of working with an established project team and their input would be coordinated by the project managers;

  2. Support the delivery of a programme of activity. The intern would propose and brainstorm at least one activity with an external stakeholder and colleagues and take the delivery forward collaboratively.

  3. Working with a mentor, the intern would identify, research and develop options for improvements to an existing system, model preferred option(s), report outcomes and plan a way forward.

The following year, Yasmin was asked to reflect on the internship programme Frankie had put together: I felt like a valued member of the team from the get-go. Being able to shape different aspects of projects, activities and business improvement was great in so many ways. I saw that I had a lot to offer – strengths I could build on – which was really positive. It motivated me to show more initiative and to volunteer to take on more challenging tasks. Brainstorming with the client and a diverse range of colleagues was especially rewarding – it was great to be an active part of a collaborative process and come up with more ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas. I was delighted that Frankie could work with me on my improvement project – it made perfect sense to work on a flexible training programme for new entrants with him. He had already made such great in-roads and, as well as motivating new starts, the programme now forms part of our marketing material: a great way to promote our organisational culture to potential recruits, stakeholders and partners!’

Frankie built opportunities for collaboration into Yasmin’s programme. He made room for Yasmin to influence, design, grow and shape what she did, how she did it, and with whom. Yasmin was supported throughout but had plenty of freedom to be creative and stretch her strategic muscles. Yasmin’s internship was also a collaborative experience for Frankie, through which he was motivated, inspired and rewarded too. So, crafting a collaborative experience worked for everyone: Frankie, Yasmin, their colleagues, the organisation and external stakeholders.


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