Our minority government gives Islanders a first and rare opportunity to bring our governance, model of leadership, and bureaucratic organization in step with best practices throughout the world. Collaboration became a buzzword during the election campaign and it is encouraging that the new premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition continue to place the idea at the forefront of their comments when speaking of plans to move forward.
It is not clear, however, that all representatives in our provincial legislature understand collaboration in the same way or, indeed, have any background or training in collaborative models of governance. How do they understand what collaboration requires of them? This is not a criticism. It is a question.
Collaboration is actually a simple concept and much different than cooperation or consensus building; ‘true’ collaboration includes a defined process for working together toward a shared purpose or goal.
People simply coming together as a group or committee doesn’t equate directly to collaboration. It may be conversation; it may be cooperation; it may be knowledge sharing; it may improve MLA engagement; but it is not collaboration.
We have a government caucus comprising members who, for the most part, have been in opposition for 12 years. It will take courage and much self-reflection to dare to lead in a different way. Collaboration, according to Brene Brown, “means having tough conversations, staying curious, and learning how to listen.”
I sincerely hope our MLAs have courage enough to recognize and acknowledge what is needed, individually and collectively, to be truly collaborative.
Susan Hartley, PhD
Collaborative professional and Clinical Psychologist