A light skinned woman and a medium skinned man with a gray beard stop for selfie in front of a brick sign that says Harvard Kennedy School

Our natural rural collaboration vs. our giant silos

A couple of times last year I had the chance to hear Dell Gines talk about collaboration. Both times, he used the phrase “build robust networks for targeted purposes.”

That resonated for me as Deb Brown and I often tell you stories about Building Connections and turning your crowd into a powerful network as part of the Idea Friendly Method.

In rural communities, collaboration is both a natural act and a huge challenge.

It’s a natural act because people represent multiple organizations. When Jeanne Cole, Laura Girty and I decided to do a series of Entrepreneur Day events, we naturally involved the organizations we were members of and represented. We listed the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center, the Business and Professional Women, and five other groups as collaborators, so it sounded like a great collaboration! Really it was mostly the three of us doing the work.   

It’s a huge challenge to collaborate because we run into the hard walls of silos. Territorialism. Not wanting to step on other people’s toes. Worrying about duplication of effort. Reluctance to take on something new that might be controversial or cause problems. Scarcity. I don’t have to tell you a story about that, because you’ve lived it.

Often the best collaborations don’t come from the people with the most important titles or serving in the highest elected offices. Instead the powerful collaborations come from regular people and the decisions they make every day about how they will work together to stretch their limited resources.  

Our 2024 theme of Helping You Along the Way connects right up with this. You’re tired of trying to do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t have to. The Idea Friendly Way is to Gather Your Crowd using your big idea. Then you turn your crowd into a powerful network by Building Connections. Finally you and your newly powerful network can make that idea happen by lots of you Taking Small Steps to find out what will work best and what to try next. It’s the quickest and easiest way to move from working in isolation to working in collaboration.  

Dell, Deb and I put together a free webinar on rural collaboration. You can learn more about that at LearnTo.SaveYour.Town