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Ask Atti: Engaging Collaborative Governance

“Dearest Atti, how have you successfully & meaningfully engaged your board and/or stakeholders in the process of creating or updating your organization’s governance documents?” – Katie 

Atti, the Peach-faced Lovebird, studiously gathered responses from other WCCN (Western Collaborative Conservation Network) partners to support Katie, and this is what he found: 

A good early step is to connect one-on-one with leaders and/or influencers, like board chairs or executive directors of partner organizations.  

Other WCCN members had resources to share! The tool A Guide to Appreciative Inquiry by Hallie Preskill and Arani Kajenthira Grindle may help in the development of a decision-making framework, and the book Impact Networks by David Erlichman presents an opportunity to learn about approaches to group organization, as well as principles and methods of collaboration.  

Here is what Atti and the WCCN offered in response to Katie’s question. 

That’s a valuable question, Katie. Read the answers below for more ideas. 


  • An early step I have found useful is to discuss my thinking one-on-one with leaders (e.g., board chair) or influencers (e.g., EDs of partner NGOs) before I get started. 
  • We have an advisory board, not a fiduciary (legal) board. Working primarily with the chair, I drafted “roles and responsibilities” then discussed, revised, and adopted with the full board. 
  • Hiring a third-party facilitator to coordinate an in-person retreat where a variety of topics are discussed, and decisions made. Facilitators support the process. 
  • We discussed logic models and Theory of Change as a type of logic model and decided on TOC as an approach to take. We then had a facilitated discussion on what our final goal is. 
  • I find that interactive means of exploring various elements of the documents are helpful. People like to engage with Jamboard and Google docs during working sessions. 
  • Learn about the different approaches to organizing groups, the principles and methods of collaboration. My favorite recent book: Impact Networks by David Ehrlichman. 
  • Another book you might consider reviewing is Connecting to Change the World for some more insights on designing collaborative networks.  That link has a great summary of the content!
  • I’m wondering how well a process such as Appreciative Inquiry might work as a decision-making framework?  A Guide to Appreciative Inquiry is a good place to start. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Q&A! Feel free to share with us your own suggestions here.

Have a question and want to seek advice from other collaborative conservationists? Ask your question via our fun Q&A platform: Ask Atti!

Submit your questions to and we’ll call upon the Network to share their advice in a play-off of the classic newspaper column, Ask Abby. Instead, we will be asking Aireona’s charming Peach-faced Lovebird, Atticus!