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Alex and each of the Mayors of Melbourne's Central Activities Districts, signing a collaborative agreement.

Government funding has been encouraging collaboration for several years, with grants strongly favouring applications that involve multiple partners. Increasingly businesses are also seeing merit in collaboration to recognise respective expertise, and to achieve shared outcomes.

Collaboration should be nurtured and encouraged, but unfortunately there are also plenty of businesses that talk about collaboration, but do not follow through in practice.

As a strategic marketing agency we often work with other specialists to support our clients in achieving their goals. We thought it would be useful to share our advice on how to foster collaboration.

  1. Agree on the outcomes. Before considering any form of collaboration, ensure that there is an agreement on the outcomes that are to be achieved and the impact that this will create.
  2. Ensure you work with partners who share these outcomes. A supplier is not necessarily a collaborative partner, unless they are actively involved in sharing the agreed outcomes.
  3. Recognise expertise and responsibilities. Make sure that all collaborative partners are aware of their roles and the specific expertise that is required. Each partner should recognise each others expertise and not attempt to overreach.
  4. Collaborative partners need to be treated as equals. While money and time commitments may vary, there should be an equitable level of involvement to ensure that everyone is contributing to the outcome.
  5. Review partnerships and revise when required. All partnerships should be periodically reviewed and revised if needed. Identify what is working in the partnership and what need to be improved.

One of my highlights in working collaboratively was during the time I was Mayor of Maroondah in 2010. Ringwood, had been identified a Central Activities District, which meant it was to be strengthened as a residential and commercial hub.

One of the challenges, however, was the need to encourage the State Government to commit to the redevelopment of Ringwood Station, given it failed to meet accessibility standards and was perceived to be unsafe. While Ringwood was clearly in need of funding, the broader issue was the lack of Government involvement in its own transport and planning policies.

One of my highlights in developing a collaborative approach was during the time I was Mayor of Maroondah in 2010. Ringwood, had been identified a Central Activities District, which meant it was to be strengthened as a residential and commercial hub.

One of the challenges, however, was the need to encourage the State Government to commit to the redevelopment of Ringwood Station, given it failed to meet accessibility standards and was perceived to be unsafe. While Ringwood was clearly in need of funding, the broader issue was the lack of Government involvement in its own transport and planning policies.

One outer suburban council on its own, lacks direct influence with a State Government. As a result, I worked with Bill Pemberton, the Mayor of Whitehorse and Christine Richards, the Mayor of Frankston, to form an alliance so we could advocate for greater support for our respective Central Activities Districts (Box Hill, Frankston and Ringwood). We then expanded this alliance into a formal arrangement that incorporated every Central Activity District in Melbourne. While each individual Council had its own priorities, this group succeeded in developing joint advocacy by focusing on common issues.

Alex and each of the Mayors of Melbourne's Central Activities Districts, signing a collaborative agreement.

Alex and each of the Mayors of Melbourne’s Central Activities Districts, signing a collaborative agreement.

The end result was a greater level of investment and interest within each of Melbourne’s Central Activities Districts, including a commitment to redevelop Ringwood Station.

Before considering a collaborative approach make sure there is a common understanding, so you can work together to achieve your agreed outcomes.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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