Earlier this week, we shared how successful collaboratives allow each school to retain their individuality and at the same time, through some or many shared processes, introduce significant efficiencies for both school and parent/guardian communities. However, a well-functioning collaborative can be difficult to achieve, as many parties, each with their own goals and needs, must work well together over time.

How do these successful collaborations achieve success? The answer is simple: one step at a time. No collaboration is successful overnight; instead, they start with smaller accomplishments. The collaboration grows and matures as participants see and experience benefits. To help understand the maturity process of a regional admission collaborative, we have developed a framework – essentially a set of best-practices that allows you to enjoy increasing gains from collaboration.

We have defined five levels of maturity, through which a region can evolve. Whether you are a school interested in starting collaborative work with others in your area, or your region already has a robust collaborative, this model will help you identify next steps toward a stronger collaboration.

The Admission Collaborative Maturity Model© (ACMM)

There is a clear maturity pattern in the regions we work with that have highly successful admission collaboratives. The Admission Collaborative Maturity Model is a tool that identifies an achievable pathway to success. Our goal is in walking you through these levels is to help spark some ideas for elevating collaboration in your own community.

The ACMM has five maturity levels for an admission collaborative. Maturity in our model refers to the level of which the processes of collaboration have been defined and formalized.

Level 1: Ad Hoc
No official collaboration exists. Collaborative activities may not exist or may occur on an ad-hoc basis. Successes can occur but may not be repeatable.

Level 2: Informal
A collaboration loosely exists and at least one process or activity is managed at a collaborative level (for example, a shared admission calendar). Successful collaboration is often highly dependent on one individual or one school who spearheads individual efforts – but the departure of that individual may lead to the demise of the initiative.

Level 3: Formal
A well-defined collaboration exists and multiple aspects of the admission process are done at a collaborative level. Formal roles have been established that assign ongoing responsibility for collaborative efforts, and a system is in place to replace those in these roles as they move on.

Level 4: Comprehensive
The community acts in a collaborative way in most all aspects of the admission process – yet still allows each individual school to retain and showcase its uniqueness. This includes admission dates, events and activities, communication with the prospect community, application forms and processes. Level 4 differs from Level 3 mostly in the scope, sophistication and defined leadership of collaborative efforts. In this level, thoughtful consideration has been given to the establishment of collaborative leadership, and the governance processes that ensure that strong leadership will be ongoing and will continually involve new participants.

Level 5: Optimizing
The Optimizing level is all about ongoing improvement. The collaborative has structures in place that allow for continuous assessment of the program, identification of areas of improvement and proactive innovation.

Admission Collaboration Success photo1

Using this model, you can determine your starting point, and then start a dialogue with the schools in your area about moving to the next level. The subsequent article in our series will include a Self-Assessment quiz to help you define your starting point.