Magazine article Public Management

Working across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations. (Books)

Magazine article Public Management

Working across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations. (Books)

Article excerpt

by Russell M. Linden. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 989 Market Street, San Francisco, California 94103-1741; www.josseybass.com. 2002. $28. 300 pages. Cloth. ISBN 0-78796-430-1.

What do James Madison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Peter Drucker, the Book of Exodus, Robert Frost, Vince Lombardi, T.S. Eliot, Dr. Spock, and Albert Einstein have in common? They all are quoted in Russ Linden's new book Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations. Linden ties them all together in an entertaining and instructive manual for managing in today's work environment.

In my view, few of us in the management profession would quarrel with Linden's premise that in an increasingly complex world, public and nonprofit agencies must be able to cut across agency and professional boundaries and work collaboratively. But exactly how?

Linden's book is for practitioners, a group that includes me, since I have been practicing at this profession for almost 30 years. He holds true to the purpose he has set for the book, which is to help practitioners address the hurdles to collaboration and adopt strategies that lead to successful collaboration, in order to achieve better outcomes for their customers and communities.

What I like best about the book is the use of stories to instruct and inform. Stories are the core tool in relationship building: when people tell a story, those listening often try to find something in common with the story or storyteller. I know that my bosses, the councils I have worked with, often rely heavily on the stories told them by their constituents to make critical policy decisions. Stories bring real-life clarity to policies, plans, and issues. Linden's stories about the collaborative work of the Baltimore Child Advocacy Center; the National Marine Fisheries Service; the city of Charlotte, North Carolina; ICMA Executive Director Bob O'Neill's performance contracts; and others provide practical examples of how his models work in the real world. …

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