Blue Heron - Exploring Partnerships & Collaboration
Page updated:
2021 10 08
Site updated:
2024 03 04
“Fortunately, more people are discovering that collaboration is the human face of systems thinking”, from The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge
Whole System Thinking and Collaboration enable Strategic Innovation!
Better linkage of cultures and strategies for digital engagement are needed to protect and improve the integrity, effectiveness and sustainability of communities

Methodologies that more solidly connect governance, modelling, and change management can lead to a more strategic approach to the business and technical interpretation of increasingly complex and volatile enterprise, community and ecosystem requirements. The outcome: a better connected and responsive design, development, operations and maintenance lifecycle.

The migration from self-contained organizations to peer engagement
Peer collaboration is increasingly a function of the complexity of societal and business needs and by the potential of networked innovation to create opportunities and solutions beyond what vertically integrated enterprises have delivered so far.

Addressing these challenges utilizing traditional organizational structures, command-and-control practices, and hard-coded applications is increasingly ineffective. Costs are higher and implementations take longer, and the resulting infrastructures becomes overly complex and unstable.

Peer communities are invariably more volatile, with inputs and solutions from an ever-wider range of participants, and an ever-changing array of perspectives and ambitions leading to a fragmentation of interests. There is a need for new types of leadership, governance and digital platform linkages to succeed in such environments.

Removing barriers: building capacity, developing alignments, creating communities
There is a need to design and develop community value chains that: Progress is dependent on understanding the dynamics that influence the opportunities and challenges associated with large-scale multi-jurisdictional and multi-partner implementations in both the public and private sectors. Having a viable architecture for collaboration is a necessary first step.

For traditional organizations increasingly engaging in partnerships and collaborations, this will require a shift in their cultural and systems perspectives and the development of a new capacity for leadership in the development of sharable platforms for community engagement. The following perspectives and designs are shared here in support of this endeavour.

The Blue Heron reading list may also be of interest.

Community actors, roles and characteristics
Community members contribute to whole system values and perspectives through narrative and structured information exchanges using standards- and rules-based services and tools. Each member’s community interface enables them to engage in peer relationships with as many other networks and communities as they wish.
Within a community's context and governance framework, a platform-based ability to connect up elements of a community enables member collaboration; a significant shift from present top-down approaches.
Active developers of a community's narrative (interactions) and its rules and structured information (interoperability) collectively establish and evolve a framework of trust and governance parameters, typically embedded in standards-based services and tools to achieve their outcomes, while also protecting their culture and interests; a dramatic shift away from dominant providers imposing a fixed basis of engagement and operation. There will always be passive users of a community's available services and tools, and the active/passive balance can be both significant and fluid. But old enforcement methodologies and tools will not travel well to this new collaborative space.
Embedded governance defines the services and tools that protect community culture

Historically, organizations assembled suites of services and tools in relative isolation and developed set-piece operational platforms, infrastructures and methodologies that suited their own visions, goals and deliverables.

A pre-requisite of early stable-state partnerships and collaborations was policy and operational harmonization. This typically meant working with existing business, methodologies and tools from the dominant members. The junior or less influential members enjoyed some efficiencies, but at a price - reduced policy room and increased operational rigidity. In effect, early communities have been marginal adaptations of traditional organizations.

The evolution of associated network architectures, standards, platforms, services, tools and assistants collectively increases the capacity of businesses and individuals to engage in a wider range of substantial peer or community ventures.

This is more than technological change, it is an enduring cultural and behavioural shift coming as much from end-users and their “always on” social networks and digital devices as it is from “top down” managed advances in public and private sector enterprises.

But, if we are to take on substantial and enduring issues, rather than just influence and support passing social narrative and dialogue, we need to work out how to embed these new community cultures and practices in our governance frameworks and models, standards agendas, methodologies and tools so as to truly enable the energy of community members and create a momentum of peer-based innovative contributions.

When done well, we have a viable expression of flexible enterprise culture and policies, supported through governance by appropriate standards and technologies. This enables members of future partnerships and collaborations to participate in new, evolving and innovative environments capable of greater richness and reach than we have previously experienced, and without the business and technological constraints previously experienced.

The knowledge, skills and value-add that make communities viable
The “frameworks” that describe community purpose and methods enable a set of high-level reference models for all aspects of community culture, design and activity.  These models can then be “refined and extended” to describe specific and ongoing community needs.  New knowledge and skill sets are needed to develop and evolve these top-level reference models from an abstraction to a level applicable to local and focused deployments: The defined areas of application will include:
Interactive communities sharing narrative can increasingly deploy readily available tools; interoperable communities sharing complex, structured information are more likely to be dependent on standards and community-specific builds, but the trend is towards tools for all collaborations.

The approach to the design and development of communities can follow many paths, for example:

It is not always appropriate to first focus where the need is greatest. Developing capacity where there is the greatest cultural openness may lead to better long-term outcomes.

Disclosure and Contact Information

Blue Heron shares its knowledge of systems thinking and human interactions to aid transformational activity in established organizations and their project teams; and to clarify systems and human dynamics at the business/information technology interface during times of change, especially when traditional organizations first engage in peer-to-peer interactivity and interoperability.

For our perspectives to be of value to an end user, they need to be aware of challenges in these areas. This website's content should enable end users to test their correlation with our knowledge and expertise, broadly described as the partnership and collaboration agenda in private sector supply chains and public sector collaborations.

Above all, this advice and information about business and individual interactions is shared as an aid to strategic thinking. When we receive a direct request for input, we first explore this alignment.  The evolution of any relationship is then dependent on the complexity of the present situation, and the alignment of planned directions with our potential value-add.