Getting Things Done
Focus on Outputs and Outcomes: To advance community-based collaboration, focus on both near-term outputs (activities, projects, meetings, partnerships, etc.) and long-term outcomes (more resilient landscapes and more vibrant communities).
Adapt Projects as Needed: Outputs can and should be adapted as projects and activities unfold. Success stems from making the right adjustments -- adding value, achieving better efficiency, incorporating new information -- all in service of moving in the direction of the group's ultimate goals.
Finish Strong: Whenever you finish an activity or project, tell the world about it! Let people know what you've accomplished and how it benefits the people and places we all care about.
Engage Early and Often with Partners (and Opponents, too): Because community-based collaboration relies on neighbors and partners to set priorities and deliver results, it's critical to keep everyone informed of your work at each step of the process. And don't be reluctant to reach out to those who may be opposed to your efforts as well. They may not agree with your perspective, but your ongoing efforts to be clear and transparent may lead to greater understanding and better communication in the future.
Listen to Understand: We often think about communications as a output or outward looking element of our work. With community-based collaboration, communications is at least as much about listening as it is about sharing information or creating messages. Listening is the primary way that community-based leaders understand what is happening in their communities and landscapes, what ideas are out there to address challenges and opportunities, and where there are areas of agreement and disagreement on critical issues.
Tell the Whole Story, Not Just Yours: Community-based collaboration works because of the many perspectives and areas of expertise involved. Too often, community-based collaborative efforts only talk about the work that everyone does together. It's important to also talk about all the great work that others are doing to shape the direction of the community around the same set of shared values.
Engaging with Decision Makers
Build Relationships and Understanding First. In order to engage effectively with elected and agency decision-makers, it's important to get to know them and their staff members. Understanding their interests and how they work will help you and your partners identify areas of shared interest. It will also provide you with insight into their decision-making processes, so that you can help them advance shared interests at the right time and in the right way.
Pursue Both Formal and Informal Opportunities. While it's important to meet with elected and agency officials in formal settings, it's just as important to find informal opportunities to build relationships and trust and to share insights and challenges about your work.
Remember the Power of Problem-Solving. Elected and agency officials face multiple, time-sensitive challenges and are often confronted with competing demands from their constituencies. To the extent that community-based collaborative efforts can provide an elected official with a multi-faceted solution to a pressing problem that incorporates multiple perspectives, that solution will typically be well-received by an elected official.