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Advancing the public health workforce to achieve organizational excellence
Launching a Successful Cross-Sector Collaborative
Cross-sector collaboration is a term used to describe a process where various community organizations come together to collectively focus their expertise and resources on a complex issue of importance to a community they serve. The cross-sector collaborative may address issues of health, behavioral health, and social determinants of health such as transportation, housing, and food insecurity that are impacting the health of the community.

Improving a community’s health and well-being requires that the public health department, healthcare institutions, and the other community organizations impacting health break out of their comfort silo zones and work collaboratively.
Building a successful cross-sector collaborative requires that the potential organizations in the collaborative share resources, funding, and expertise while retaining their respective autonomy. Before trying to address a community issue, a cross-sector collaborative should first understand what the members have in common, where there are differences, and perceived barriers to collaboration are, then decide on what the focus areas of the collaboration should be.
The Public Health Foundation (PHF) offers customized technical assistance to help your organization and community form, enhance, and sustain a successful cross-sector collaborative. Depending on your organization’s and community’s needs, the technical assistance may include topics such as the following:
Topic 1: Readiness for Cross-Sector Collaboration
With the Readiness Matrix for Cross-Sector Collaboration, PHF can facilitate a process where collaborative members develop an understanding of what organizations have in common, where there are differences in perspectives, approaches, and services, and the perceived barriers to collaboration. At the end of this facilitated session, participants will be able to decide if they are ready to proceed as a cross-sector collaborative, or what needs to be addressed before proceeding. If participants are ready to move forward, The Community Population Health Expansion Matrix can then be used to identify the areas of focus and how the collaborative will interact to achieve its goals.
Topic 2: Leadership for Cross-Sector Collaboration
PHF can assist collaborative members to build the leadership skills necessary to work with traditional and non-traditional partners to improve their community’s health. It consists of eight interactive four-hour training sessions with readings and assignments in between to help develop Transformative Cross-Sector Coalition Leaders who understand the roles and responsibilities necessary to have a successful coalition.
Topic 3: Building a Collaborative Culture
PHF helps participants learn techniques to be innovative change management leaders in their community. Topics covered include: the challenges of change, aligning individual and organizational goals with the collaborative’s goals, planning for effective change in the community, understanding the triggers of change and dealing with resistance to change, and developing the community change plan.
Topic 4: Facilitation and Coaching Skills
Through the use of tips and techniques, PHF helps individuals build skills to be an effective coach and successfully facilitate improvement and project teams that may be constituted by the Cross-Sector Collaborative to help achieve their goal of improving a community’s high priority need.
Topic 5: Conflict Management and Negotiation Skills
Through the use of tips and techniques, PHF helps organizations and collaboratives explore common responses to conflict, the conflict cycle, and ways to handle conflict as well as diffuse it, when necessary, to improve cross-sector collaboration.
Topic 6: Are You Ready to Make a Change?
A study by Towers Watson has found that only 25 percent of change management initiatives are successful over the long term. Making substantive change in a community with entrenched cultures is always difficult.  Although leadership often knows there is a need for change, frequently it starts with an unclear vision of the change, poor planning, and unclear communications to initiate the change process on the part of the management group. PHF provides training to help organizations and coalitions address issues that often derail a successful change management initiative: lack of poor planning, unclear communications, and poor execution that causes a lot of fear in the organization or coalition about how the change will affect the status quo, and whether it will be better than the current reality. Participants learn techniques to make innovative change management a reality as an essential mark of a long-term sustainable culture using the Change Question Checksheet.
Topic 7: Developing Innovative Solutions
This topic focuses on helping collaborative participants change their thinking style to foster innovation. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination, and initiative. It simply is not enough to say, “Be novel and creative.” PHF will work with your organization or collaborative to create an innovation lab, offering practice with innovation tools that help foster new ideas and approaches to help a cross-sector collaborative be successful.
Topic 8: Population Health Driver Diagram
A Population Health Driver Diagram is used to identify primary and secondary drivers of a community improvement issue and serves as a framework for determining and aligning actions that can be taken within a cross-sector collaborative. This framework offers not only a starting point for discussion but also flexibility for identifying and addressing unique community characteristics, assets, and needs. It helps create an atmosphere of cooperation by enabling each participant, working to address the specific community issue under discussion, the opportunity to identify and articulate roles already being played by that individual’s organization and to develop an understanding of how what he or she is complements other community organizations. PHF will facilitate with collaborative members the process for constructing the Population Health Driver Diagram, and can assist in refinement of the Driver Diagram, identifying evidence-based interventions and metrics, and action planning.
Topic 9: Problem-Solving Tools for Cross-Sector Collaboration
PHF will provide training on use of the Seven Breakthrough Thinking and Advanced Tools of Quality Improvement. This provides a system approach of continuous refinement of an issue and related interventions, as participants move from one tool to the next in a defined sequence of application. Breakthrough Thinking and the Advanced Tools of Quality Improvement, when used in a sequence, can be of tremendous help to a collaborative when solving complex problems.
Topic 10: Modular kaizen
Modular kaizen is a thinking process for collaborative decision makers. It includes specific tools designed to help a collaborative make logical, informed choices during an event that disrupts the stable state of a community issue. Modular kaizen is an application of Lean Six Sigma techniques designed to support highly interrupted work environments.  A Modular kaizen approach minimizes disruptions by making sure no “act” is executed until “check” has been done to establish the baseline measurement of where a disruption begins. When any action is taken, it is done in an informed manner and is short-term in nature. Once the disruption is fully understood, it is appropriate to charter an improvement team to develop a longer-term plan using the complete PDCA cycle that can then be implemented. PHF will provide training on Modular kaizen and facilitate use of this process to address a specific collaborative need.
Ready to Get Started?
For further information on customized technical assistance and training to help your organization and community achieve successful cross-sector collaboration, contact Ron Bialek at to discuss your needs.
Launching a Successful Cross-Sector Collaborative