Academy Blog

Articles, dispatches and missives from practitioners in the field about what matters in partnerships and community collaboration.

Most Recent Posts

  • The 8 Watch Outs of Collaboration

    Peter Williams, Associate Director About 10 years ago, when I was working for the US Forest Service, I developed a set of 8 “Watch Outs” for collaboration. Based on my experience, these are what I keep in the back of my mind throughout a collaborative process and whenever someone asks me to help them troubleshoot their situation. These borrow from the ideas of “decision traps” in the decision literature and the idea of “watch outs” in the wildland fire world.  Many folks in the USFS and...

  • What’s All This About A Wicked Problem?

    Peter Williams, Associate Director I often hear that community collaboration or collaborative conservation involve wicked problems. Ever wonder what that really means? In the Northeastern US, wicked is used as a modifier in place of “really” or “very.” You can have wicked good beer that is truly tasty - or see a wicked bad movie that is truly awful. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The phrase “wicked problem” originated in the 1960’s to describe a particular type of problem with...

  • My Partner Said What?!! Recognizing Conflict and Responding Effectively (Part 2 of 2)

    Peter Williams, Associate Director In the first part of this series, we talked about being “high-centered”, stuck between in the rut and ridge of a bumpy competition-conflict relationship, unable to make progress towards collaboration-partnership. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you go from stuck, to sideways, to upside-down. Let’s talk about the latter two. Sideways and what to try. Let’s say you’ve been working in good faith with a partner, along the lines of the first blog in this...

  • My Partner Said What?!! Recognizing Conflict and Responding Effectively (Part 1 of 2)

    Peter Williams, Associate Director Have you ever worked in good faith with a partner only to learn they said things that seem especially critical of your agency? You aren’t alone. And your reaction to this may range from basic frustration all the way to feelings of betrayal or believing that your partner is no longer an honest broker. Pause here and take a moment. How you respond can make a huge difference in whether your partnership succeeds. Perhaps more importantly, anticipating this...

  • Over the Horizon: Collaboration, ADR, Third-Parties, and You

    Peter Williams, Associate Director Making decisions and resolving disputes are two of the most basic human activities. Yet, aside from academics and lawyers, few people think much about the details of what is involved, especially during a collaborative process.   Today, as various federal land management agencies pursue changes in environmental analysis and decision making, more attention is being paid to how those decisions are made and how to resolve disputes that can arise during a...

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