This text definitely earns its Handbook title. It is a complete 178 page manual on how to initiate, grow and support a successful collaboration between not-for-profits, community groups and institutions.
It starts with detailed story of a fictional "Tri-County Collaboration for Homeless Services" that goes through every stage of development. This story is then referenced through out the second part of the book which gives detailed insight and advice on the specific tasks, stages and milestones throughout the life of a successful collaboration. The manual concludes with annotated resources and 30 pages of simple template forms and worksheets that cover everything from meeting agendas and decision-making protocols to joint agreements, promotional plans and guides to systems change.
The book has excellent formatting with lots of easily digested and referenced lists, information boxes and sub-headings. The many illustrative examples help provide real world context and the side bar quotes are a nice spice that help keep the text light. The perspective and language is from the front lines of community organizations in the USA, although generally applicable to collaboration between any type of organizations in any location.
The target audience is definitely real world organization leaders and consultants who aim to coordinate effective teamwork between multiple organizations either for funding reasons or out of their own initiative. At times the language and metaphors may cause a raised eyebrow or two from a hard nosed executive director, but such flowery bits are brief and easily overshadowed by concrete tasks and experienced insight.
Michael Winer and Karen Ray did a great service in authoring this handbook back in 1994. It would be interesting to see what revisions would be made in a second addition that could take into account the web technologies and techniques that are now part of our everyday work. Until then this handbook is still a very useful resource for the good people who want to do good work together.