Coalitions Behaving Badly

Doing things we shouldn’t -- and other pitfalls to avoid:

1. Claiming the glory
Despite your level of involvement, never assume you know all the details. So much can happen because of an impromptu conversation or a personal relationship of which you are unaware. Share the accolades. Make sure partners and co-workers are recognized for their participation. Even if a partner didn't participate as you would have liked on this project, it is the partnership that is important today and, possibly, in the future.

2. Expecting immediate results
Building partnerships takes time and trust. Coalitions develop over time. Even when everyone can agree that the cause is worthy (and certainly libraries fall into that category) there can be competing demands for money or space or time. Don't assume that one conversation or meeting will be sufficient to accomplish the goal. It may take months or even years to bring the right combination of people and resources together to make the dream reality.

3. Expecting that what you start with is what you'll get
Advocacy is organic. Well planned approaches and informed partners will help move an initiative in a single direction but the final outcome may be tempered by many factors beyond the control of coalition members.

4. Hating the process
Advocacy is not speed dating. While there is a danger that so much effort is spent on introspective development that the goal gets lost, successful coalitions acknowledge a portion of time and effort will be needed on the "who, what, when, where and how" details.

5. Wanting only the glamorous jobs
Regardless of the collaborative project, there will be some tasks that are easier, more fun or more rewarding, and the opposite will also be true. As a coalition member, stay focused on the shared goal and help with whatever it takes to get the job done.

6. Making assumptions
Assuming anything about your coalition partners can be detrimental ― whether assuming the goals are clear, the facts are known or everyone has all the information. Coalitions take work to succeed and your success will depend on exploring different perspectives, identifying talents, and sharing information.

7. Believing you’re too diverse to succeed
No one is saying that coalition building is necessarily easy. Each member may be asked to work outside his or her comfort zone, but the act of engaging in meaningful discussion for a shared goal may be the key to convincing a decision maker of the merits of a project.

Coalition Building homepage

Eleven Library Advocacy Myths...Debunked