Top 3 challenges in cooperation and information exchange in chains and networks

By Ruud Boot

Cooperation in chains or networks floats on common ambition and an attractive "beckoning perspective. This is expressed, for example, in the intergovernmental program (IBP). This combines the most important social tasks and focuses on cooperation between public organizations.

Challenges in Collaboration: Communication, Representation, Priority

In practice, cooperation and information exchange in chains and networks - despite the common interest or even binding legislation - turns out to be a tough assignment. With a cooperation program much can be arranged but often the challenges lie outside the formal program management. In this blog, I explain my personal top 3 challenges:

  1. Communication between work floor and management
    The decision to enter into a collaborative program is often made by an organization's board or senior management. Filling in all the necessary details is a matter for execution. The connection of these two layers - with often several layers of management in between - proves difficult in practice. What is discussed in a steering committee for the partnership does not automatically reach its own constituency. The important details as discussed in working sessions, for example, do not automatically reach the decision-making in the steering committee. Program communications often do not provide sufficient detail or context.
  1. Representation of the constituency
    Representation poses another challenge. It is not possible to give all government organizations or all private organizations a seat on a steering committee or project team. So representation is worked with, such as through an umbrella organization or representative organization. But does the representative organization or umbrella organization really speak on behalf of the constituency? How is this secured, formally and in practice?
  1. Daily practice often takes precedence over the vision
    Finally, there is the "gravity" of everyday life. Because joint innovation is all well and good, but everyday practice goes on. Despite the managerial ambition, it is not a given that resources are also released and priority given to participation in all joint activities in a program. Without a good connection between the strategic goal of the cooperation and incorporation into the day-to-day work within one's own organization - for example, in the form of a program - it is highly uncertain whether the agreements made will be fulfilled. This is at the expense of quality and speed.

More and more innovations are taking place in chains or networks, and the complexity of collaborative programs is only increasing. There is certainly no standard solution to the above challenges, but certain interventions are widely applicable. For example, working short-cycle in multidisciplinary teams and using sectoral consultations for review. Recognizable dilemma and in need of a sounding board? We like to think along with you.

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