Yesterday I posted an article that sought to give a broader frame to the idea of cross-sector nonprofit collaboration: placing collaboration within a process of negotiation to create new value. Today I will break down negotiation a little bit further to show why I think it’s important to take a broader frame of things and maybe even get semantic. Updated to add: :-)

When I’m talking about negotiation, I’m really talking about one particular piece of community engagement. Community engagement is all about self-evaluation (what can we offer the community?), communications/outreach (sending and receiving), and creating opportunities for participation—leadership, governance, programming and volunteerism all included. Negotiation is the piece where you are actively communicating with specific members of the community: individuals, groups, organizations, businesses and government.

So if collaboration is just one option within negotiation, what are the others? To that I really like the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Management Model:

Assertiveness (Y-Axis) is the extent to which you attempt to satisfy your own concerns, values, or interests.

Cooperativeness (X-Axis) is the extent to which you attempt to satisfy their conncerns, values or interests.

It’s designed specifically for individual conflict management situations, but I think it really helps to illuminate the different ways you can interact with another party that intentionally produces an outcome.

What I like about the instrument is that it’s non-judgemental; none of the strategies are intrinsically the best; instead the best is the one that is most effective or appropriate in the situation at hand. Not every situation can be collaborative because of limited time, resources, or competing values and interests.

Understanding the different approaches you can take to—as I said yesterday—create value, is important and provides a broader framework with which you can understand your organization’s place in the community, and act to positively and iteratively transform its actions.