Bruce's Blog


3 Ways to Relate

December 7th, 2015

It is all about relationships. What is? Everything. We social animals are continually involved in relationships. We are born into “families” of many types.  Parent or guardian relationships, play dates, school, dances, real dates, sports teams, work relationships, friendships and often care-givers—from the cradle to the grave everything that makes our lives pleasant and miserable is the result of interactions with the people and things around us.

Agencies go through the same processes and relate in many of the same ways. These three are paramount.



This is the period when the agency, organization or individual is establishing their own identity. We are concentrated on our mission—refining it, building it, supporting it, and gaining friends who can and will strengthen the cause.

At this point, we are single-mindedly doing what we need to in order to thrive. In organizations this results in a true “silo” approach. We are unaware or unobservant about what others are doing. There is little interaction with peers. Consequently there is no benchmarking. We are so busy designing our approach that we fail to notice those who are already doing our mission and have plenty to teach us.

Sooner or later comes


Often this comes when someone else pays attention to us and asks for our help in accomplishing a project or goal. Honored (or flattered) to be recognized for our work, we begin to help, and find in the process that the other person or agency is already doing some things more effectively than we. We wind up helping one another toward our ultimate goals while maintaining strict autonomy.

This is often where people and organizations stop. For years we called this stage of growth collaboration, and thought we were very grown up.  Many replicate this form of cooperation with a number of other organizations or individuals peer -mentoring and encouraging each other. This, however, is no longer the end of the rainbow.

The current buzzword is


Collaboration is an older cousin to cooperation. It usually occurs only when some outside entity urges us into a closer, more objective look at the process and outcomes of our mission.

Here is a best practices quote for collaboration: "What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful." — Teresa Calcutta 

Collaborators admit that we are not experts in all the things we want to accomplish. We are willing to look at the way others do things. If they do things better, then, rather than adopting and adapting their processes to our own mission, we collaborate with them. This entails clearly delineating each other’s strengths. Then we concentrate on the things we do well and work with other organizations to share our skills to accomplish a specific and exact common goal.

Results of collaborations

  • Economy
  • few duplicated services
  • sharing the workload
  • all eyes on solving the problem
  • centrality to mission rather than to organization
  • teamwork
  • community-building
  • top-quality service to clients
  • client (human)-centered rather than agency-determined resources.

Collaboration…It’s worth the effort.


No one has commented yet, you could be the first!

Leave a Comment

will not be published or sold, but will be stored in case a staff person needs to contact you