This illustrates what it is like to facilitate a group of people belonging to different organizations with no formal bond other than a common goal. Without pre-established ground rules for resolving conflict or identifying common values and boundaries, holding the “lid” is no consolation when differences begin to pop.
Strategic Alliances are formed through cooperation. The power structure is shared, and instead of a top-down communication process decisions are collaborative. To build a solid foundation, it is best to begin any collaborative process by assembling the members, creating a vision, agreeing on desired results, and building trust.
Trust building must begin early on. It is nurtured by building one-on-one relationships that rely on the integrity, honesty and fairness of the people involved. Therefore, disclosure of self-interests in relation to the common goal is extremely important. Without this, suspicions and perceptions of undue advantage can surface. jeopardizing the process.
Other important ground rules to consider include the following:
- Defining your common practices: Identifying common practices builds unified procedures resulting in shared ownership.
- Disclosing your power base: In all relationships, it is important to realize that power is always present and never equal. Disclosing the power that exists and the power that is sought from other members ensures that power is used wisely and ethically.
- Disclosing values: By identifying each member’s values, group operative values develop resulting in a foundation for making decisions and solving problems. Identifying up front those behaviors that support the majority value structure and those behaviors that would disrupt your process create the boundaries that allow your group to functioin.
- Identifying loyalties: Foundational loyalties affect the decision process. It is important to know how loyalties will affect decisions.
- Establishing a grievance process: Identify a process, put it in writing, and appoint the necessary leaders to facilitate misunderstandings and conflict. Make sure each member has a copy and is committed to the peacekeeping process.