Last week I attended another one of those collaboration meetings. You know, those meetings where various organizations get together to consider how to work together. I think this is my last one. This time the issue was homelessness, but many collaboration meetings are the same regardless of the issue.
This is the usual agenda for collaboration meetings: Let’s gather stake-holder organizations from the community together in order to create a conversation about the issue so that we can develop a focused work-group with the purpose of creating awareness for the issue in our community so that the power brokers in our city increase the funding for the stake-holder organizations from the community who collaborate in order to create a conversation about the issue…
I can’t do it anymore. If everyone in the room of collaborators contributed their hourly wage to someone who is in a housing crisis, we would accomplish more for homelessness than what these kinds of meetings normally produce. My guess is that everyone in the room was “on the clock” and probably thinking that meetings like this are a vital part of their job assignment. I agree that working together is better than working alone, but the time cost of the meeting should be weighed against the value of actually doing something for the clients that we are supposed to be serving.
We shouldn’t regard collaboration meetings as contributing anything unless they produce concrete results for their clients. Sometimes these meetings are actually a hindrance to their cause because the give participants a feeling of accomplishing something for their cause when in reality they distract them from doing their real jobs or from meeting any real needs. We don’t need more conversation we need more results.