Notes on Collaboration
Today I am taking a short flight to Chicago to be a part of the Louis Palau Associations NGA ReFuel Conference. They asked me to share a bit about collaboration between organizations and ministries so I thought I would share some of my notes.
A few years ago I also recognized JSAW’s goal of transforming action sports culture was a huge task that we couldn’t accomplish on our own. So naturally I wanted to partner and collaborate with other organizations to achieve this. I realized several other large organizations were doing action sports ministry effectively. In fact we were each essentially doing the same things in ministry with different action sports in different parts of the country. Our goals and values were aligned with one another yet we each brought something unique to the table.
I learned that one of the most important things in a collaboration or partnership is trust. To build that trust JSAW flew the National Directors of SFC, Christian Skaters, and Christian Surfers to a weekend retreat with no agenda, no plan and no objectives. We literally just spent time together feeding goats, riding ATV’s, shooting guns, talking, eating and praying. (Since this initial retreat we’ve hosted others and brought WakeWell into the strategic partnership). From there the relationships grew and we knew that we wanted to work together somehow.
The next important thing that I learned was to serve the need. We wanted to know what the one thing was that we could do together that we could not do better apart. We decided to make a collaborative effort to go after a crowd funded grant for $10,000. Each organization had gone after the grant on their own and failed, but together we had enough marketing reach to win. This is called synergy: a combination of elements that produces a greater effect together than the individual elements can produce on their own. We have done several other things together including an online auction fundraiser, launching Printing Forward, the Action Sports Ministry Conference, hiring a graphic designer, selling online ads, a grant program and others.
Not all our efforts have been successful. Some have actually been absolute failures! Through this we have learned that just because we are all Christian organizations working in action sports does not mean we all have to work together on everything all the time. That doesn’t mean we are not unified as the Bible talks about in Psalm 133:1. Some things just work better on their own, like bacon and ice cream! Yet because our goals and values are aligned, we work to serve each other and our relationship is built on trust, we enjoy working together still today. I don’t claim to have collaboration all figured out yet, but I do know that with these three things, collaboration can work effectively!