Comment by Dan Bassill
This conversation topic has come up in the past, on Omidyar.net and here. I've offered thoughts on this that I'll repeat again.
I think that for their to be collaboration, someone has to step forward and define a purpose, or a reason, for people to begin to connect with each other. That could be larger or small, but until someone takes that role, there's not likely to be much collaboration.
Secondly, this is a process of invitation, such as open space that Michael Herman teaches. Just because you think you've identified a problem, does not mean everyone will be knocking down your door to join you in solving it. I've been building a network of people involved in tutoring/mentoring since 1975, and it has expanded to include people from around the world who are interested in poverty, workforce development, diversity, education, social justice, etc.
I send out email newsletters each month (and before the Internet I sent printed newsletters, but less frequently and to a much smaller network). In these I share ideas that I learn from other people, and point to others who I want to help, and who I want to help me. At this link are 55 web sites related to collaboration. http://www.tutormentorconnection .org/LinksLearningNetwork/LinksL ibrary/tabid/560/rrcid/13/rrscid /26/rrpid/1/rrepp/20/language/en -US/Default.aspx
Thus, you need to be persistent, and you need to find a way to "stay in the game". From 1975 to 1990 I had a full time job that paid my bills. Since 1990 I've had to raise the money from a wide range of private donors to do this work (thank you Christina for your donation!). If you can't find the money, and can't continue the process of invitation, and network building, it's not likely the collaboration around your idea will ever grow beyond informal networking.
In the book titled The Spider and the Starfish, the idea of decentralized networks is explained. I apply this in my own thinking. I put my ideas on the web at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net and talk about them in a blog at http://tutormentor.blogspot.com
Anyone can take ownership of these ideas, and some do. They don't need to pay me for them (although helping me find the money to keep me paid would be nice). Thus, other leaders might be using their own time, talent and dollars to make these ideas come true, and I don't even know about it.
This is not formal collaboration, but maybe a stronger glue, because it aims to connect us around a common purpose, where each of us can "do our own thing" to achieve a common goal.
If we keep doing this, and keep inviting people to come together, this can lead to more formal collaboration not only between myself and others, but between the people who I connect to each other. I may not ever know that some of these are taking place, but again, that is my role in network building.
An example of this is that I first learned about Social Network Analysis from conversations on Omidyar. On Nov. 20 Valdas Krebs and Jean Russell will be presenting information about SNA during the Conference that I host in Chicago every six months. This coming together is a result of over 4 years of networking and sending invitations. It may lead to nothing more formal, or it might lead to me using donated software to map the network of the T/MC and use these tools to build more support for the vision we share. See http://www.tutormentorconference .org
How do we know what is happening? On-line documentation systems offer potential for understanding the impact of the collective efforts of many people, over many years.
We launched an on-line documentation system in 2000 that enables anyone who is working with T/MC to document actions that lead to long-term growth of tutor/mentor programs. Visit this at http://www.vattsystems.com/ohats /Home.aspx . You can log in using GUEST as the username and VISITOR as the password. The metrics charts link to Ning discussions where you can ask meaning, and "collaborate" with us to make this system work.
It starts with a purpose, and an ability to communicate that purpose on a regular basis to a growing number of people.
Is this easy? No.