|HIV/AIDS Networking Guide - A comprehensive resource for individuals and organisations who wish to build, strengthen or sustain a network (International Council of AIDS Service Organisations, 1997, 48 p.)|
|Chapter 5 - Governing Body and Staff Issues in Formalized Networks|
A collective is a group of like-minded people working towards a specific goal. The individuals within the collective have a responsibility to define and support the basic philosophy of working as a collective.
For a collective to work, each individual must have a highly developed feeling of responsibility and commitment to the achievement of the organizations goals and objectives.
In a true collective the staff and the governing body work together to achieve the goals of the organization. Responsibility for policy, management and operational functions is shared. This model is usually found in self-help groups and organizations with few or no staff.
In both the true and modified collective, there is no management hierarchy although some people may be performing what would traditionally be viewed as management functions. Management functions are often rotated.
In practice, however, there are networks that originally started out as true collectives but now have coordinators with management responsibilities. These are still referred to as collectives because they work to equalize the contributions of board and staff, promote egalitarian status for board and staff and practice consensus decision-making.
When Is This Model Effective
This model is effective:
where there is a high level of agreement about, and commitment to, the organizations values, goals and objectives;
where team work is valued;
when all the members are willing to do their part to carry out the work of the network;
where members are highly skilled and able to invest a good deal of time to make collective decisions;
when the network is small; and
where there is a high commitment to one another as individuals.
Things to Watch for
1. Some members might assume non-hierarchy means no structure.
The network may be continually reinventing the wheel and certain functions may be overlooked.
Identify the functions that must be performed and assign them to individuals or teams. Develop clear terms of reference.
2. Cliques or informal hierarchies might arise in the absence of a formal hierarchy.
Groups or individuals may gain more power than other because of their skills, assertiveness, or class.
Acknowledge the existence of these informal power imbalances.
Share the responsibilities and rotate jobs to break down these informal power hierarchies.
Become aware of the factors that influence decision-making and develop appropriate ground rules.
3. Burnout and overwork.
The network may lose people or people will become ineffective.
The network may have trouble recruiting new members if there is a perception that they will be overworked.
Individuals who, for personal reasons, are unable to contribute as much time to the organization as others have their commitment questioned.
Set realistic expectations and respect peoples personal needs.
An efficient structure and decision-making process for routine and maintenance activities will help reduce the individuals time commitment.
The group values individual capacities to contribute in different ways.
Adapted from Boards Basics Manual for Leadership Development Programs, United Way of Canada-Centraide Canada, 1995.