A diverse group of people line the street in a small town, watching a marching band in a parade.

You can’t order people to collaborate

And you can’t plan your way there, either.

I ran into another one of those outdated “how to fix your rural community” prescriptions. I think you know the type I mean, written to address the “official leaders.” It started with shared vision, then planning (lots of planning), recruiting additional participants, assigning parts of the plan to people, and then finally action. That’s not getting into the follow-ups and accountability and all that.

It sounds plausible, or it used to. 

You can’t plan and assign your way into collaboration. 

Not when we each have access to instantaneous individual and group communications and the assembled knowledge of humanity. We can do a lot individually and together, and we can choose to be part of a community. 

So if you want a prescription for how to fix your rural community here’s my version: 

Less time writing plans and assigning action to others, more time helping other people try their own ideas and build on their successes in your community.

Less time trying to convince people to see it or do it your way, more time attracting people by taking your own positive action and making it easy for them to play a small but meaningful role. 

If you’d like to see how this Idea Friendly version of collaboration works, join Dell Gines from IEDC International Economic Development Council, Deb Brown and me for a no-charge webinar to help you develop robust networks for targeted purposes. You’ll get practical ideas for building meaningful collaborations in your rural community. Learn more about the Rural Collaboration Webinar here.

Keep shaping a better future for your town,