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What Does It Take to Make Collaboration Work? Lessons Learned Through the Criminal Justice System Project

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 251 Dated: July 2004 Pages: 8-13
Date Published
July 2004
6 pages
Publication Series
This article presents the top 12 lessons learned through the National Institute of Corrections, Criminal Justice System Project assisting State and local policymakers in using a collaborative approach in developing criminal justice policy.
Research indicates that collaboration is worth the investment. To help State and local policymakers develop a method of working together and show them the value of a collaborative approach and of system-wide strategic thinking in developing criminal justice system policy, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) established the Criminal Justice System Project (CJSP). This article presents 12 practical tips gained from the CJSP on collaboration and how to make the collaborative process more effective. These lessons learned were obtained from an evaluation of the CJSP funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Highlights of the top 12 lessons learned include: (1) ensure that the people or the group in charge is officially sanctioned and authorized to make decisions; (2) ensure that the collaboration team is committed to the project/process; (3) team members need to create a collective vision; (4) teach and help team members to ask the right questions, collect and interpret data, and use data; (5) teach team members how to collaborate; (6) provide team members with some structure for completing the project/process; (7) lay out, inform, and educate team members about the specific steps of the project/process at the beginning; (8) identify project/process outcomes, goals, and midterm milestones early on; (9) help policy teams identify and define their long-term priority or strategic issues early on; (10) ensure that leadership roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and that meetings and overall process are facilitated effectively; (11) ensure that policy teams have the staff support and resources needed; and (12) communicate continuously the next steps and activities in the process and their rationale. These lessons are helpful to any criminal justice professionals involved in criminal justice problem-solving and willing to commit to collaboration.

Date Published: July 1, 2004