Success in collaborative governance is critical to the success and growth of your collaborative network.  The challenge is developing a governance framework in a social network.  Remember that your collaborative network is a professional social network and one of the strength of the social network is the flexibility and participation of partners based on desire and benefits that can be achieved through a partnership in an initiative of the moment.  Your professional social network, or collaborative network, adds one important element to the social network framework, a social club type of element.  In other words, the element that provides the continuity thread to your collaborative network is the ‘club’ aspect of members that come together as a result of a common background, practice, need and benefit.

The common background, practice, need and benefits will only carry the partnerships network for so far and so long until entropy settles in and the the network begins to deteriorate.  This is where the club element comes into play and gives a reason for the partnership network to continue.  However, just a reason to continue will only delay the entropy for so long without a governance framework that supports and encourages individual partners across the network to step up and lead through initiatives to deliver benefits to the network and members.  This leadership can turn into haphazard pockets of development and while each initiative will provide benefits, you can actually turbo charge the benefits in a geometric manner with coordination of the initiatives.

Coordination of the initiatives and the realization of geometric benefits requires a governance process to provide overarching coordination and leadership.  This requires the cooperation and active participation of the partnership members.  There are two types of participation in any social network, or club, passive and active.  In order for the network to continue to flourish the level of active participation must be at least as high as the passive participation and it would obviously be best if the level of active participation was much higher than passive participation.  You should anticipate the participation levels to fluctuate for a variety of reasons such as time of year, type of activities that generate the participation, number of members and also number of new members. 

Your governance program must take into account all of these aspects and on top of all of that it must support the prioritization and coordination of improvement initiatives.  Your governance program must take all of these things into account while encouraging active participation..  This is where the robust continuous improvement program will show itself to be invaluable is supporting these objectives.  The continuous improvement program provides the framework to identify, prioritize and initiate initiatives and in addition, as a result of the execution it will generate interest and active participation from your partners.  This participation will also generate the interest in leading and driving the partnership forward.  

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?