Multi and cross-sectoral collaboration

Method

Multi and cross-sectoral collaboration is when different sectors work together to address a specific complex social challenge; it is a team approach which aims to make a collective impact on a social issue. This approach has been proven effective and is becoming the standard for responding to complex and persistent social issues.  

When sectors work in isolation it often results in a fragmented approach to an issue which then translates into poorly met social needs at the community level. Working in isolation can result in blaming other sectors for needs unmet, confusion over responsibilities and poor use of resources.  

Important Features of effective collaborations: 

  • Cohesiveness: the vision and mission should take a big picture perspective and an integrated approach.  
  • Clear and Continuous communication: all sectors understand the common mission / vision and commit to keeping in step with one another; the same language is used to create a united voice and shared understanding.  
  • Productiveness: sectors decide on shared measures by which to evaluate outcomes; actions taken by the collaboration have a meaningful impact on the community; all sectors are equally motivated and inspired to engage in the shared actions.   
  • Coordinated activities:  Activities carried out by different sectors should complement and reinforce one another; objectives and responsibilities are based on the skill, capacity and resources of each sector.  
  • Trust is fostered: clear protocols are in place to resolve conflicts fairly and timely; credibility is proven when sectors are held accountable.

The Collaboration Multiplier is an interactive framework for analysing collaborative efforts. It is helpful in strategic planning particularly for use in prevention projects (the worksheet is free for download).


Advantages

  • Systematic approach to meeting multiple social needs which are complex and stubborn 
  • A team approach allows for a range of resources, capabilities and strategies to be utilised thus accomplishing much more, and having a larger impact, than one sector working in isolation 
  • Research has shown that this approach has been successful in addressing social issues  
  • Presents an opportunity to share learnings  
  • Streamlines funding which may have previously been fragmented  
  • A way to overcome finger-pointing and confusion in social projects 


Disadvantages

  • Requires a disciplined and innovative approach and implementation 
  • Can be challenging to coordinate multiple sectors in a large-scale project 
  • Progress depends on focusing on the same goal and measuring the same things 
  • Challenging to navigate differences sectors may have on issues  


Context

It is crucial for cross-sector prevention projects to take a collaborative approach to ensure a broad scope to gain government endorsement.  When working collaboratively with other sectors it is useful to regularly assess effectiveness.  

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