Strategic Relationships

Approaches to Relationship Building

The World Café: Shaping Our Futures through Conversations That Matter (Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, 2005).
This book highlights seven integrated design principles to foster conversations that reveal deeper patterns and insights. The design principles address context, space, asking powerful questions, encouraging full participation, cross-pollination of ideas, and connecting diverse perspectives.

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (Margaret Wheatley, 2009).
This book explores the power of conversation and the conditions that support it; encourages the reader to pause, reflect, prepare, and work for truly meaningful conversations; and provides 12 questions to help start conversations. The book highlights the centrality of conversation in healing relationships and organizational dysfunction.


Conceptualizing and Measuring Collaboration in the Context of Early Childhood Care and Education (Nina Chien, Amy Blasberg, Paula Daneri, Tamara Halle, Carlise King, Martha Zaslow, Kelly Fisher, and Kathleen Dwyer, 2013).
The purpose of this study was to identify the key components of collaboration in the early care and education field. This brief presents the logic model for measuring collaboration in an early childhood context, explains its core components, and highlights these components by mapping them onto a hypothetical example of collaboration in early care and education. The brief also shares the results of an extensive review of existing measures of collaboration, describes key measurement considerations, and discusses future directions for collaboration research in the field of early care and education.

Elements of Successful Collaboration: Lessons Learned by the Family Literacy Support Network (First 5 LA, 2013).
In 2002, the Los Angeles County Office of Education was awarded a contract to create and establish the Family Literacy Support Network to support First 5 LA–funded family literacy grantees in building capacity. In this brief, the Family Literacy Support Network identified characteristics that promote strong collaboration, which in turn leads to positive outcomes for programs, communities, and families with young children.

Generating and Sustaining Commitment in Community Collaboration” (Darrin Hicks, n.d.).
In this resource, the author provides a definition of collaboration and describes three key elements: communication, relationship, and commitment. The article argues the commitment is a key ingredient of collaborative success and describes the various collaboration processes that foster commitment.

Promising Practices: Building Collaboration in Systems of Care (Sharon Hodges, Teresa Nesman, and Mario Hernandez, 1999).
This paper was developed for the purpose of describing promising practices in interagency collaboration at sites funded by the Federal Center for Mental Health Services as part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program. It explores the importance of collaboration in systems of care and focuses on three specific issues: the foundations of collaboration, strategies for implementing the collaborative process, and the results of collaboration.

Collective Impact

“Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, by Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, and Mark Kramer, 2012).
This article provides an in-depth follow-up to Kania and Kramer’s 2011 article, “Collective Impact” (above). The purpose of this article is to expand the understanding of collective impact and provide greater guidance for those who seek to initiate and lead collective-impact initiatives around the world. It focuses on the most common questions: How do we begin? How do we create alignment? How do we sustain the initiative?

“Collective Impact” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, by John Kania and Mark Kramer, 2011).
This article argues that the traditional approach of using isolated initiatives to address complex social problems is unlikely to produce system-wide progress. Rather, such issues must be addressed through a collective-impact approach that involves collaboration across systems, sectors, and organizations toward shared goals. The authors outline five conditions of collective success: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

Partnership Building

Partnership Basics: Strategies for Creating Successful Partnerships (Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, 2014).
This document provides a framework for successful partnerships and fundamental strategies for creating a stable foundation for partnerships. It emphasizes the importance of careful planning, a shared vision, communication, and clear expectations.

Shaping the Partnership: Key Steps (Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, 2014).
This document highlights key steps to help local early care and education programs to develop and implement plans for managing multiple funding resources and other shared resources. It assumes that local partners will pursue, as a starting point, the following program goals: providing full-day, full-year child care for families who need it so parents can work or pursue education and training opportunities; making comprehensive services more widely available for children and families; improving continuity of services; and improving program quality.

Stages of Partnerships (Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, 2014).
Although all partnerships are unique and different, they follow predictable stages. Navigating these stages skillfully ensures success. These stages are not unlike traditional phases that any strong relationship encounters as the partners learn more about each other in the process of building trust and respect. The stages of partnerships listed in this resource can serve as a guide for individual partners through a process that allows the partnership to grow from the early stages of coming together as strangers to a higher level of commitment.

Forming and Maintaining an Effective Team

The Intersector Toolkit: Tools for Cross-Sector Collaboration (The Intersector Project, 2017).
This online toolkit is a helpful guide to think about cross-sector collaborations. It allows the user to diagnose, design, implement, and assess collaborations.

“The New Science of Building Great Teams” in HBR's 10 Must Reads on Teams (Alex “Sandy” Pentland, 2013).
This book is a compilation of 10 articles that share real-world experiences, teaming theories, and new research about team building. These articles include quick tips in pullout boxes and other resources to help you carry out and reflect on efforts to build effective teams. 

“What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team" (Charles Duhigg, 2016).
This article from the New York Times shares research from Google’s Project Aristotle and its efforts to build the perfect team. The article illustrates the researcher’s journey through the literature on teams and through the data they collected from their many teams in action. The findings indicate implications for communication, group norms, and especially how psychological safety can affect teams.

Virtual Relationship Building

"Building Collaborative Virtual Teams: A Personal Interview with Jaclyn Kostner" (Cinda Daly, n.d.).
This interview shares tips and ideas to use with virtual teams. Sharing the idea of eTeamwork, Jaclyn Kostner offers ideas and principles to help teams form virtual relationships. Highlighted are excerpts from her other books on this topic and the need for intentional, disciplined focus to ensure connections in virtual work.

Directory of Virtual Meeting Tools (National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, 2015).
This resource shares a directory of virtual meeting tools such as conference calls, meeting platforms, document sharing, website design, hosting, and social media. At the end of the document, helpful charts—categorized with examples of resources and tools to use for virtual meetings—are available for review and consideration. 

Managing Partners in Contracts


Collaboration Checkup: Assessing and Improving Your Community Partnership (Community Action Partnership, 2012).
This document synthesizes empirical evidence related to successful partnerships in a manner that can be applied to local community action agencies. The goal of this guide is to support organizations in understanding and assessing their partnerships so they can more effectively develop and nurture those that have a measurable impact in local communities. Example surveys and other measurement tools to assess both the functioning of the partnerships and the results they achieve are provided.

PARTNER (Visible Network Labs, 2014).
PARTNER is a tool that allows people and organizations that work together as a network to measure and monitor collaborative activity over time. Using social network analysis, network measures indicate the progress of collaboration by assessing which partners are involved and the ways partners exchange resources, and by providing a better understanding of the amount of effort required to sustain a collaborative. Additionally, outcome measures related to the process of collaboration are provided.

Partnership Elements Worksheet (Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, 2014).
This resource was created to support partners as they work together to build partnerships. The tool outlines the elements of a partnership and key questions and critical issues related to each element. It provides a mechanism for partners to consider their progress on each element and organize necessary action steps.

Shaping the Partnership: An Assessment Checklist (Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start, 2014).
The Assessment Checklist will assist partners in identifying skills, developing strategies, and strengthening the results of the partnerships. This checklist should be completed with all actively involved partners. The tool consists of six sections: Planning and Developing the Partnership; Communicating, Decisionmaking, and Negotiating in the Partnership; Managing the Partnership; Leading the Partnership; Assessing and Stimulating Continual Improvement of the Partnership; and Partnering with the Greater Community. This resource also provides action plans to support partners in prioritizing next steps.

The Good Collaboration Toolkit: An Approach to Building, Sustaining, and Carrying Out Successful Collaboration (The Good Project, 2013).
The Good Collaboration Toolkit is a set of materials aimed at helping individuals collaborate well and build successful collaborations. Through a series of activities, participants will be asked to consider questions, dilemmas, and cases involving all aspects of collaboration, most especially the process of collaboration. This toolkit provides participants with an opportunity to work through exercises, as individuals and in groups, that can be useful to the collaborative process.