Successful Collaborations Take Time: A Merging of Training Methods

In December 2014, New Tactics in Human Rights MENA Initiative and AHEL, a social enterprise registered as a training company, unveiled a unique collaboration which provided a method-merging training to benefit human rights advocates in the region. It is important to note that collaborative efforts do not emerge overnight – successful collaborations take time.

The collaboration was more than four years in the making. Our respective organization’s leadership and method trainers each had a number of formal and informal meetings with each other over that four year period.  In the fall of 2013, we advanced our mutual interest with conversations to learn more about each other’s effective training methods:

This kind of collaboration is rare – especially for two organizations that would normally be seen as competitors promoting different training methods – to openly and generously share their respective methods, processes and resources with each other. We hope this experience can serve as a model to others that such collaborations are not only possible, but invaluable for advancing capacity building training methods.

Successful collaborations need a base of trust and mutual values that can be concretely applied. In this collaboration, both organizations value:

  • Conducting their work through partnerships with organizations, associations or community groups for the stated purpose of advancing change toward greater access to justice and human rights
  • Openness
  • A desire to learn
  • Flexibility
  • Open source knowledge

In addition, the collaboration required a willingness to invest significant time – on the part of each organization’s leadership as well as the trainers involved.

We found that it was essential to take enough time to develop rapport among the trainers in order to have effective planning and curriculum discussions for determining module integration, adaptations and development. New Tactics was also able to engage two Strategic Effectiveness method trainers who had gone through an initial training with Marshall Ganz and had a basic understanding of the community organizing method. Their understanding of both methods provided invaluable insights into the method-merging discussions. AHEL also initiated a “norm setting” process prior to the training itself that served us very well.  Such a norm setting process would be well worth investing the time for any collaborative effort.

Of course, resources are needed. Open Society Foundation – Arab Regional Office provides funding support to both the New Tactics in Human Rights MENA Initiative and AHEL. Their interest in such a collaboration was significant and the training itself was funded by OSF. However, the additional in-kind time investment and commitment required by each organization and the trainers for the collaboration cannot be underestimated. This time commitment was over and above the culmination of the actual training days with participants and daily discussions for making adjustments.

The benefits of the collaboration were notable and have provided curriculum adaptation opportunities within each respective organization’s method. Utilizing these adaptations can make our respective methods more effective and such experiences can provide smoother integration of modules in future collaboration efforts. The table below provides the method components and the sequence used during the training.

Method Components and Sequence Merged for the Training Organization – Method
1. Method Overviews:
New Tactics – Strategic Effectiveness Method (SEM)
Ahel – Community Organizing Method (COM)
New Tactics-SEM /
2.Step 1 - Identify the Problem New Tactics-SEM
3. Coaching and the meaning of leadership AHEL-COM
4. Narrative: Story of Self AHEL-COM
5. Step 2 - Create a Vision New Tactics-SEM
6. Narrative: Story of Us AHEL-COM
7. Team Formation AHEL-COM
8. Step 3 - Map the Terrain
a. Tactical Map Tool
b. Spectrum of Allies Tool
New Tactics-SEM
9. Theory of Change / Strategic Path AHEL-COM /
New Tactics-SEM
10. Step 4 – Explore Tactics (and target identification) New Tactics-SEM
11. Campaign Chart AHEL-COM
12. Campaign Outreach
a. Snowflake Structure
b. One-on-One Meeting
13. Step 5 - Take ActionDeveloping an action plan New Tactics-SEM
14. Narrative: Story of Now AHEL-COM

Use this link for more information in English regarding the Community Organizing Method (COM)


“This is a very important training program that can be applied on the ground. The training was highly organized and training team was professional and distinctive.”  - Participant