SCC Value: Collaboration
Notes from Discussions on Jan. 15 & Jan. 18, 2002
Attending: 2 students, 3 faculty, 4 administrators (1/15 & 1/18)
What is “collaboration?”
Moving away from unilateral, autocratic, dictatorial management
Involving everyone in decision making (when appropriate)
Everyone can’t be in on every decision – need to decide (with careful thought) who the stakeholders are and involve them. It can be easy to use formulas (2 of this, 2 o f that) – need to stop and review if that truly brings in stakeholders
It assumes that the people who are part of the process will support the results, leading to success
Collaboration is not an end in itself – we expect it to produce better decisions
Cooperative partnerships are both internal and external. We have to partner with the right people internally in order to get things done. External groups are also important to partner with – reminding us we’re not the hub of the universe; for some decisions it would be good to build in an external scanning process
Important that before seeking external partnerships you be sure that the internal collaborative work has been done.
External cooperative partnerships may be more informative (keeping the external partners informed) than decision influencing.
Some believe that if input asked for & given, the decision will be same as their input; we need to be clear at the front end of the process about where decision is made and the role of groups asked to give input
Collaboration is more than majority votes – it’s finding a middle ground that we can all support.
I feel collaboration isn’t necessarily being in on every decision. It is being informed and asked for input, and once that’s provided, having the appropriate group make a decision and move on. That still means real communication where you are really informed. But it also needs trust as a base.
What’s going well?
Hearing lots of positive comments about the direction the administration is moving in with Holly and Carol in leadership positions. Faculty comments I hear indicate that many feel administration is sincerely hearing what faculty have to say and working with them. We’re seeing collaboration in action, not just words.
Feedback from one external partner (Boeing) was that they like working with SCC because they do see it as a collaborative venture. Neither side is dictating what should happen; we are creating the results with them.
Examples of internal cooperative partnerships:
- Library and academic departments
- General education committee work, multidisciplinary work on outcomes
- Student faculty partnership on tutoring center (student funds are positive driver for this)
- Elevator at Foss building (ADA committee, students; student advocacy, college dept (disabled student services) and institutional commitment to access
College is very open to student participation and input, and students do step up to participate
Areas for possible attention
For faculty, the challenge is how to have collaboration without drowning in governance opportunities. We need to have fewer committees and more trust, built on a real, collaborative attitude (& I feel it is now developing).
As student govt. representative, I am sometimes caught off guard by the reaction when I present what I think is a minor issue, which turns into a major institutional response. I’m just trying to give a “heads up” and it seems to become a “big deal.” Is this appropriate or overreaction?
The only area where students might want to be represented where they aren’t now is president’s staff. I’m curious about what goes on there.
Some committees don’t do anything – they meet, talk, moan about how much work they have, and then set the next meeting. It’s hard to get a student to participate when this happens. All committees need better definition of their role and tasks. On the other hand, it’s also hard to get students to serve on the curriculum and facilities use committees – both are seen as a lot of work.
As a student, when I am in informal gatherings and not in my student government role, sometimes I feel that while people listen, they also discount my ideas because “I’m just a student” and “I’m only here for a short time.”
As an administrator, I find we don’t have structures set up for college-wide collaboration to help us make decisions or respond to issues, especially when there are short timelines. If issues are not part of our regular planning processes, it’s very time consuming to find ways to meet with everyone. Things like getting the word out, finding time to meet, having a way to make a decision….we need to think about a structure that will help us collaborate in this way. So far I’ve used having an open door, visiting existing committees, & holding open meetings. The faculty listserv doesn’t work well for communicating because only 60% of the faculty have kept their access to it.
When all governance committees are advisory, it can create the feeling that (and some faculty feel this way) they’re going through the motions. Advice is asked for but not seriously considered.
We may need to improve the back end of the communication about decisions, letting people know what happened to their advice, especially if the decision is different from a group’s recommendation. Think this is not happening now. Examples: search process results with a notice about readvertising before committee participants knew about it; survey on retention that wasn’t acknowledged at subsequent campus meeting called on same topic. Could we use a BB system or some other mechanisms to report back to committees what happens in the decision making process once it leaves them?
Closing the loop to get response and be able to share it with the work group and with stakeholders.
A concern about “representation.” If stakeholders don’t or can’t participate, how do we ensure that all stakeholders’ needs are included? People up the line assume the representation happened, but often it doesn’t because people have conflicts or choose not to participate. What are the responsibilities of the people chosen to represent? Do they have to find someone else? Or is it the committee’s responsibility to be sure that all stakeholder groups do have a voice?
Should there be changes to the values statement?
"Cooperative partnerships" seems to focus externally where collaboration in decision making focuses internally. Some question as to why these are both in the same value.
Support for the value. Think there’s a reason to leave both coop partnerships and collaboration in there.