Collaboration, along with innovation, has become a mainstay in any game of buzzword bingo. And when playing with a group of social entrepreneurs, your scorecard is likely to fill up fast.
Collaboration is so easy to say and yet so difficult to do that the term risks becoming hollow. Meaningful collaboration – where both parties go away changed from the encounter, with new insights that they take back to their work, their organisation, and their sector – requires an openness that can be challenging if it involves sharing ideas that may be seen as proprietary or exposing areas of weakness where help may be needed.
Nominet Trust's speedmatching event last week, facilitated by the Media Trust, brought together 60 social entrepreneurs, funders, commercial providers, academics and policy makers to explore the potential for collaboration around technology for social change. It was encouraging to see genuine openness and interest in finding areas of common ground to identify opportunities for joint working.
This is good news as Nominet Trust hasn't always got collaboration right. We have tried to force it at times, bringing together initiatives that we thought would benefit from working together and which could become greater than the sum of their parts through partnership. In practice, forced collaborations rarely work as the appetite for partnership is usually lacking and this results in limited, constrained conversations.