Some Opinions Regarding What Makes Collaborative Management Work
Ted G. Hoskins
It is tempting to follow along with the spate of business management books that list “Ten Habits of Successful…” and inhabit the bookshelves of many a would-be manager. This would not be all bad, for there are, without question, characteristics that surface in almost every successful project, and many certainly find their rightful place in fishery management. As to the determination of “successful or unsuccessful,” that is an uncertain task in itself, often depending on whom and when you ask the question. There are unintended results that at times turn out to be the real winners!
Here are a few characteristics of what I see as successful projects:
• A well-articulated and broadly accepted goal is essential. This requires a tremendous amount of onthe- ground work so that all recognize in the goal some of what they want. Herein lies the basis for inclusivity both in defining the goal and in broadcasting its purposes.
• Access to process and decision making by all affected parties. This does not mean that everybody has to serve on a committee or be directly represented. It does mean that all need a reasonable point of entry into the process that leads to decisions. (For lobster management in Maine: the Department of Marine Resources, the Lobster Advisory Council, and lobster zone councils [A–G] and associated zone districts1)
• Balance in decision-making power goes beyond access and means that everyone has an honest and equal opportunity to affect decisions. Without this, there is disillusion and disaffection. This is one of the more difficult areas in natural resource projects that deal with multiple jurisdictions, not to mention a skeptical public.
• Clearly defined boundaries—geographic, political, economic and social—are important for effective dialog. In some ways, this is a refining of the goal in specific arenas.
• Funding. Lack of funding is noted as a major factor in projects that do not succeed. So careful planning is essential, not just to get started, but to keep going. While the number of projects keeps growing, it is increasingly obvious that the number of funders does not keep pace. Col laboration and networking are key to long-term success, along with a willingness to adapt to changes in funding patterns such as the emphasis on regional planning.