Achieving Innovative Governance through Collaboration

Achieving Innovative Governance through Collaboration

Firstly the word “collaboration” is nothing new, it is as old as mankind,  even the caveman had to collaborate to survive, secondly “Governance” isn’t new either, once again even the caveman had a structure that governed much of their life and survival. And we might even be able to align the word “Innovation” to him as well. After all it is said that he did eventually discover fire for cooking and heating and later worked out how to move things using a wheel.

Q: So how far have we progressed?

A: A lot – so we would like to think. So let’s look at modern-day Innovation, Governance and Collaboration in a collective model used to achieve

Over the past few decades, a new form of governance has emerged to replace adversarial and managerial modes of policy making and implementation. Collaborative governance, as it has come to be known, brings public and private stakeholders together in collective forums to engage in consensus-oriented decision-making.

This is what you might expect when you have a clear lack of structured governance.


Collaborative governance is a process and a form of governance in which participants (parties, agencies, stakeholders) representing different interests are collectively empowered to make a policy decision or make recommendations to a final decision-maker who will not substantially change consensus recommendations from the group

Governance can employ different degrees of both public and stakeholder consultation and participation, ranging from;

  • non-participation (the community or stakeholders are unaware of any decisions taken), informing (telling the community  or stakeholders what is planned and to understand problems, alternatives and solutions),
  • consultation (to obtain feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions),
  • collaboration (to partner with the public or stakeholders to develop alternatives, identify preferred solutions, and make decisions),
  • to empowerment (placing final decision-making into the hands of the public or stakeholders).

Collaborative governance is governance with characteristics of both collaboration and empowerment.  However over the years that I have been working with clients striving to achieve innovation and change through collaboration, I have identified critical variables that will influence whether or not this mode of governance will produce successful collaboration. These variables include the prior history of conflict or cooperation, the incentives for stakeholders to participate, power and resources imbalances, leadership, and institutional design.

I have also identified a series of factors that are crucial within the collaborative process itself. These factors include face-to-face dialogue, trust building, and the development of commitment and shared understanding.

My working experience has found that a virtuous cycle of collaboration tends to develop when collaborative forums focus on “small wins” that deepen trust, commitment, and shared understanding.

I first start to we work with a particular focus on the early steps of getting a co-commitment to collaboration, co-defining the dilemma and what matters to stakeholders about finding a solution with all stakeholders, and co-designing both the governance structure for decision-making and the process for working together

To commit to collaborate, leaders needs to firstly to recognise the complexity of what they face, that it has many facets and there is no silver bullets to solve it, secondly they needs to appreciate and value the input of those who have a stake in both the dilemma and the solution, thirdly need to acknowledge that a wise solutions needs the ownership of those people who have to make it stick and they need willingness to invite those stakeholders into the group and find a solution together

A model a way of bring a group of stakeholder to a final decision in a very collaborative way, it’s about collaboration and decision-making.

Understand the model b 4 u try to use it

Below is a simple model of collaborative governance


Bring the organisation together to explore mindset about collaboration.

Many do not understand the meaning. Collaboration means releasing the command power and learning to share it, this is often a very difficult decision or step for many to take. One has to learn to share power.

Governance is new to many in business, it the focus on the process of decision-making, who is making it, who can make, who should make it. Are we making a wise decision?

It provides clear guidelines to the decision-making process, it provides a roadmap to better management.  Many say it clears the path.

It’s a model that takes you on a journey with a clear end in sight with very clear milestones to meet on the way as you progress towards that end.

In many cases you are looking down a long road with a horizon view at the end, and as you move forward that horizon appears to be still a long way away, however after you have made some steps and achieved some milestones you see you are reaching that horizon view-point. Eventually you will be at the end view and be able to look back and understand the journey you have taken

Where are we going, who is going to make decisions, who is going to decide on solutions, who is going to own it, who is going to implement it.

For all our Collaborative Governance engagements and work, we use an effective and efficient 5 Point Model:

Phase 1: Obtain commitment to collaboration

This involves the organisation or community group:

  • Exploring the prevailing mindset of key stakeholders
  • Highlighting existing strengths and opportunities
  • Getting uniform commitment to collaboration


  1. You then have a – proposed success criteria


Phase 2: Get everyone involved to co-define dilemma

This involves the organisation or community group:

  • Identifying who your key stakeholders
  • Identifying and scoping the dilemma, issue or problem together
  • Being able to describe success from all the diverse stakeholder perspectives


  1. At the end of this phase, you must obtain some agreement on understanding what they are trying to resolve.
  2. You need to be in a position to have a shared understanding of the dilemma.
  3. All participants must understand how each stakeholder sees the dilemma and what matters for them; how it affects them what they think it is about.

End of the day everyone must understand what it is, what it’s about and how to address it.


Phase 3: Co-design the process

Here we engage all internal and external stakeholders:

  • Being able to share process options
  • Participants being able to consider context and resources
  • Being in a position to co-design governance structure and engagement process


  1. Participants are in a position where they are comfortable in the process by which an identified problem will be solved and hence are now comfortable about solving the problem
  2. This is achieved by participant’s being comfortable in using that process because they were active in designing that process.
  3. You are now in a position where all stakeholders understand;
    • the roles and responsibilities,
    • the structures, the governance,
    • the engagement process,
    • the accountability,
    • the pathway that takes you from your current state today to where you want to get to excellent solutions.
  4. At the point where participants are comfortable with that solution is when you are able to produce the smart innovative solutions


Phase 4: Co-create solutions

Here we engage all internal and external stakeholders:

  • Being able to explore all options
  • Collective participation in evaluating impacts
  • Undertaking deliberative decisions


  • stakeholders to have a critical sense of ownership in a solution
  • they need to be involved in the process & development of the solution,
  • they need to of heard from everyone who has been involved in the design of the solutions,
  • hear their concerns and needs, common understanding of all the issues and concerns raised,
  • to have been involved in the negotiation of the final solution,
  • when people are not involved in the process, there is not the same level of ownership,
  • they can often feel they are being socially engineered to deliver what is preferred by someone else

Step 5: Co-deliver actions

Here we engage all internal and external stakeholders:

  • Inclusive collaboration in determining governance structure
  • Facilitating agreement on stakeholder roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Being in a position to establish a monitoring and evaluation framework



For a solution to work, stakeholders need to have a role in the implementation.

If you think about the end in mind being a sustainable solution, it’s really critical that this solution is one that works, it’s got to be implementable, not just a policy that sits there on the shelve; it is an actual project that is successfully implemented.

Actual ownership will also enable you to build trust from that comes from the various participants’ willingness to an active play a role in the implementation of the project. This willingness is demonstrated when they step-up to be involved, this can be in a variety of ways;

  • they may do some actual implementation,
  • be an advocate the for solution,
  • they may contribute to the evaluation of the final solution

In this environment, this is the engagement model you need to get a willingness of stakeholders will sign up for the work involved in implementing the solutions.

This is where you get clear collaboration and a sustainable solution


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