The effort and activities to generate engagement from your collaborative partners can be something of a self-generating activity if you do it correctly. What I mean by this is that if your partners are engaged in a positive manner and you promote and market the engagement and especially the benefits achieved from their engagement your efforts will create a ‘me too’, or ‘I want that too’ response from your partners. This will provide your self-generating engagement actions across partners. Of course you must also continue to encourage and support the various engagement activities. This support though must also be viewed and provided as a collaboration activity in itself.
Remember that your collaborative partnership as a model does not have a single leader responsible for the collaboration. In order to be successful and bring benefits and value across the partnership the collaborative model requires support and effort across the partners and this support and effort is manifested through the engagement of the partners. Your collaborative partnership requires the support of partners across the network and this support is manifested quite simply through the engagement of the partners. This engagement can and should be encouraged through encouraging participation and input from the partners. The key method to encourage the participation would be accepting and implementing the suggestions from the partners.
In addition to encouraging participation and engagement from your partners through encouraging and implementing the suggestions of your partners, you will also encourage engagement by encouraging your partners to take a leadership role in the areas of their particular expertise and interest. This leadership role provided by your partners is a critical success factor to your partner engagement and by extension the success of your collaborative partnership and network. As a confirmation, or reminder, I looked up collaboration in Wikipedia - “It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizationswork together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective[by whom?][original research?]) — for example, an endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.[6”
You can see from the definition that the point is for organizations to work together to realize shared goals and that leadership is providing within the group. This definition provides the confirmation to my discussion for encouraging engagement; you must encourage the participation and support across your partnership in order to achieve the value and results from your partnership. I suggest that one of the most effective methods to encourage this engagement is to encourage your partners to also take a leadership role. Sometimes the most beneficial action you can take in a partnership is to step back and listen to your partners and this includes encouraging your partners to lead the activity.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners? What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation? Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?