I was listening to an Educause podcast today which featured an interview with Martin Ramsey - founder and facilitator of LAMP ("a collaborative community of learners, linked via a common software platform and a shared learning and collaboration philosophy, across five states in central Appalachia"), which was awarded the Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration.
One of the things that Martin Ramsey mentioned was the four "C"s - he was referring to schools, but it struck me that it was relevant for most institutions or businesses who are operating in the same area. The first C he mentioned was 'competition' - so organisations specialising in tertiary education might be seen as in direct competition with one another; if one enrols a student, that student will only study at one of the institutions. The second C was 'co-existence' - institutions rub along beside each other and pretty much ignore the fact that there are other institutions in their line of expertise. The third C was 'cooperation' where institutions work together, but never let the notion of best interests out of sight. The final C was 'collaboration', where institutions work actively together to create something that would not be possible if they had not decided to do so. As such, resources and ideas are shared, and a community grows around the collaboration.
Instead of institution you could put colleagues, learners, researchers...food for thought.
Image source: "Cute_c" by Moonshine Design_sd