Let us now discuss some strategies that have proved to be effective in fostering coordination. Click on the icons to learn more about each strategy. Are there any others you can think of?
Develop a shared analysis and understanding of the situation: The first step towards effective coordination is to bring together actors working on related issues to share their analyses on a particular situation. In the beginning, you may not be able to gather all the relevant actors because of their busy schedules, lack of interest or conviction etc. However, you can still initiate discussions with a small group, and as your meetings become more regular and more focused, other actors in the field would want to join and contribute. You could also actively reach out to other actors at this stage. If you find yourself in a situation where there is already coordination efforts being made by others, join in and support these rather than trying to establish your own initiatives.
If you are leading a coordination effort, it is important to focus on engaging in a shared analysis of the situation and invite all actors to present their perspectives. Where possible, encourage and enable your local counterpart to either lead the coordination efforts or identify an appropriate local actor to do so. Discussing different perspectives with relevant actors will enable you to see the situation in a new light, and also identify common areas of agreement. An over-emphasis on points of discord could derail discussions and dampen possibilities of coordination. Such issues should be addressed only when a certain group identity has been consolidated.
Promote discussion on common priorities and objectives: Once you have identified common areas of agreement, you could use this as the basis to set priorities and define common objectives. All members should be able to see the benefits to their individual organisations.
Identify each party’s contribution to the initiative: When you have gained agreement on the priorities and common objectives, you will be able to engage in discussions about what each group member could bring to the table and define an action plan that will outline specific roles and responsibilities for each member. Special attention should be paid to specifying these roles and responsibilities as early as possible in order to avoid confusion and duplication at a later stage.
Establish a team with a strong network of resources: A coordination group is as strong as the members who compose it. A continuous effort should be made to improve the working relationship among all members. This could be achieved by giving preference to horizontal- rather than hierarchical- structures and work procedures and ensuring that all members are kept regularly informed of the group’s activities. The effective functioning of the group will also depend on effective leadership. Members of the group should appoint a lead coordinator who will be able to engage with all members, ensure timely implementation of the action plan and facilitate communication within, and outside, the group.
Create a space for coordination: The key role of a lead coordinator should be that of a facilitator. He or she should acknowledge the wealth of experience within the group and encourage members to put forward ideas, share information and best practices and propose activities. A good leader will give the group the space to coordinate itself while keeping the main priorities and objectives in sight.