Friday, April 6, 2012

Collaboration - combining shared values, and valuable diversity

Increasingly, I am seeing the virtues of collaborative intent, and appreciating better understanding how this happens.  I have also been very lucky to have been involved in some of the strategic thinking underpinning collaborative activity (like @CollabMelbourne), so I'm also getting a sense of how this works in practice.  (One of the many upsides to going out and getting involved in what you believe in!)

At the last @CollabMelbourne strategy session, Andrew (@drfroth) talked about his conceptualisation of the Collab network.  He saw that people are drawn together around a shared set of values, with mixed overlapping interests, but diverse areas where they actually apply themselves.  So I should note - this post is just my articulation of his idea.

It seemed insightful at the time, and over the last few weeks it has come up a few times, and is proving itself useful as a frame for thinking about shepherding collaborative endeavors.

A few days later, finally watching Simon Sinek's TED talk on leadership (and the importance of the 'why'), I had an inescapable - very graphical - sense that his concentric circles were describing the same thing.  Perhaps - where he talks about motivation and what speaks to us - it is this psychology that underpins why it is so effective for the Collaboratory to bring people together around their values.

This is how I see the mesh of Andrew's conceptualisation (the top line) and Sinek's three concentric circles. The idea is to describe how a network can organise around ideas, despite a valuable diversity:

As it turns out, Andrew has been even busier putting these thoughts into action, applying the principles to @VivMcW's upcoming conference (re the uses of improv in organisations - note she's looking for organisations to get involved).  Centralising the 'why' in understanding the conference is valuable.  I was also really excited to hear his thoughts on the 'what' - using time at the conference for participants to envision and design how they are going to be able to apply what they take away in their own organisations.

This is a fantastic idea if it can be done well (following some trial and error), and may really bridge the gap between the excitement of an inspirational event, and how to make that mean something more significant for us.  So many events are great while they're on, but processing and applying the experience only happens - if at all - in the following days and weeks, with variable results.

The 3-element model has clearly been paying its dues, and I'm very interested to further explore how it can guide the formation of collaborative groups and events.  Do you have thoughts or experiences?

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