In 2010 and 2011, Emily Miles spent eight weeks meeting people in the USA, Canada and India who were funded by the public sector and working collaboratively. They were working collaboratively across departments, between agencies, between national and local government, between the public sector, social enterprises and NGO sector, and with the private sector. Emily wanted a bottom-up, grassroots view of what was needed to work collaboratively, rather than a theory based on her experience of working in the centre of government.

Emily did this because she had become frustrated at the amount of effort and money she saw being wasted as publicly funded organisations struggled to work with each other. This was in spite of at least a decade of central government initiatives that had mandated much collaborative working at regional and local level in the UK, especially on cutting crime, regeneration, and dysfunctional families.

The people Emily interviewed told her what assisted them in working collaboratively - and they also told her what got in their way.