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Knowledge Works: The Handbook of Practical Ways to Identify and Solve Common Organizational Problems for Better Performance by Jane McKenzie, Christine van Winkelen

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Chapter 11

LEARNING FROM EXTERNAL COLLABORATIONS

Snapshot

External collaborations offer organizations learning opportunities that are not available internally. Increasingly, everyone from government departments to isolated specialists within private organizations is trying to join up with others and collaborate across boundaries. These aren’t formal, contractual arrangements, but looser, knowledge-based arrangements, designed to enable all the organizations involved to improve what they do. Many different forms of value can be achieved from these collaborations including individual capacity building, operational value, affirmation, reputation and relationship building, and learning about how to collaborate more effectively. The most difficult goal, and potentially the most valuable, is subject-specific organizational capability building but this needs visible long-term commitment by leaders to the collaboration.

Two main factors seemed to influence the extent of the value achieved from participating in external learning collaborations. Firstly, skilled, committed, and open-minded individuals need to represent the organization and be able to translate the implications of learning gained from the collaboration back into the organization. Secondly, the organization needs mechanisms and processes to transfer and amplify that learning, by joining up internal collaborative processes with the external collaboration activities.

Skilled, subject-knowledgeable facilitation in the learning collaboration ...

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