Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Be challenging and disruptive

The future will be knowledge and experience rich but increasingly, the current fracking bonanza not withstanding, resource and materials poor. There will be more people and organisations able to do good in the world but also more conflict about what exactly 'good' is. All these extra people with have immense potential but they will also need to be fed and housed.

So the future can be summed up as both hopeful and scary, and it is people working effectively in collaboration that will help realise the former and avoid the latter.

In order to survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and demanding future world partnerships and collaborations will need to be:

  1. Pioneering pathfinders
  2. Masters of the paradox
  3. Challenging and disruptive
  4. Influential players
  5. Socially enterprising
  6. Populated by a new breed of collaborative worker
  7. Purposefully transformative

3. Be challenging and disruptive

Partnerships must challenge the accepted ways of doing things to create an interdependent world where coordination, cooperation and creative collaboration are the default positions for action. They will need to challenge traditional roles. They will need to level relationships and disrupt hierarchies. They will need to challenge who leads and how? They will need to disrupt well established markets. They will need to challenge traditional approaches to collaboration.

A wiki approach to the creation of an Australian Bill of Rights has given ordinary Australian citizens a role in creating a key aspect of Government policy, so challenging the traditional way Government operates. The Future Melbourne Project achieves a similar thing with regard to community planning. 

New collaborative approaches to learning are challenging and levelling out the traditional teacher/student hierarchy. The world of sport is beginning to embrace the concept of 'collaborative coaching' where player, coach and other specialists work together on a more equal footing to enhance skills and performance.

The social enterprise movement is challenging and changing the nature of organisational leadership by diversifying leadership teams, making them more representative of the people and communities they serve.

Social enterprises are also collaborating with suppliers, manufacturers and consumers to disrupt traditional big business markets. For example, the social enterprise Fairphone is seeking to disrupt the established mobile phone market by designing and selling an 'ethical phone' manufactured by unexploited workers using ethically sourced materials. 

A vast array of cutting edge information and communication technology (ICT) is not only challenging but also melding with traditional 'face to face' collaboration to create powerful  virtual/real world collaborative hybrids that can respond to problems fast, gain information instantly and realise outcomes quickly.

In what ways is your partnership or collaboration being challenging and disruptive? What new roles and responsibilities is it creating for its people and its customers? What traditional approaches is it seeking to challenge? How does it need to change its existing relationships and what new ones does it need to create? What communities of interest does it represent and how can it best ensure that their views, needs and people are heard and recognised? What markets is it working within and how is it seeking to disrupt and change them? How can you splice cutting edge ICT into the procedural DNA of your collaboration to enhance its overall performance?

Look out for future posts that will deal with the four remaining aspects.                     


For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition

www.tallistraining.co.uk


Follow on Twitter @charles_lines

Friday, 19 July 2013

Be masters of the paradox

The future will be knowledge and experience rich but increasingly, the current fracking bonanza not withstanding, resource and materials poor. There will be more people and organisations able to do good in the world but also more conflict about what exactly 'good' is. All these extra people with have immense potential but they will also need to be fed and housed.

So the future can be summed up as both hopeful and scary, and it is people working effectively in collaboration that will help realise the former and avoid the latter.

In order to survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and demanding future world partnerships and collaborations will need to be:

  1. Pioneering pathfinders
  2. Masters of the paradox
  3. Challenging and disruptive
  4. Influential players
  5. Socially enterprising
  6. Populated by a new breed of collaborative worker
  7. Purposefully transformative

2. Masters of the paradox

Collaborations of the future will need to manage the following two key paradoxes:

  1. The need to be both local and global.
  2. The need to be both separate and together. 

Collaborations will need to utilise online technologies and other means to search out and attract the knowledge, resources and expertise needed to address the increasingly complex and challenging problems they will face; they will need a global (or at least national) reach. But in order to be relevant and make a real difference on the ground they will need a strong and locally focused presence.

The Wikipedia approach enables global expertise to come together and collaborate in creating and editing a wiki page. It also enables that expertise to splice into groupings with more local or specific interests, be these geographical or disciplinary. The social enterprise movement now has a fast growing global presence, but its success is deeply rooted in local action. The United Nations approaches its work in a very similar way.          

Collaborations will also need to tap into the unique creative power generated by their attempts to reconcile partners' separate interests, goals and perspectives with the need for unified action. Given the time and space to think and act both separately and together, partners can significantly increase the diversity and quality of ideas, so maximising opportunities for truly powerful innovation.

The Wikipedia approach enables a person to work on a page separately, without influence or interference from others. This encourages and enables the individual expression necessary for generating diverse ideas. Wikipedia also brings all contributions together in a structured and managed way that enables others to edit and comment upon a page (without interrupting an individual's work), so encouraging the collaborative group to work towards improving the overall quality of a page. Intel's approach to collaborative working (see Case Study 3 page 59) explicitly addresses the separate needs and goals of those it collaborates with, creating very clear firewalls between what is shared and worked on together and what remains unshared and separate. The dynamic discussions about where the firewalls need to be and the form they need to take can lead to novel, unexpected and flexible connections and groupings that provide the time and space for diverse ideas and approaches to emerge.


See future posts for explanations of the five aspects that remain.


For more about collaboration and partnership go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Be Pioneers!

The future will be knowledge and experience rich but increasingly, the current fracking bonanza not withstanding, resource and materials poor. There will be more people and organisations able to do good in the world but also more conflict about what exactly 'good' is. All these extra people with have immense potential but they will also need to be fed and housed.

So the future can be summed up as both hopeful and scary, and it is people working effectively in collaboration that will help realise the former and avoid the latter.

In order to survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and demanding future world partnerships and collaborations will need to be:

  1. Pioneering pathfinders
  2. Masters of the paradox
  3. Challenging and disruptive
  4. Influential players
  5. Socially enterprising
  6. Populated by a new breed of collaborative worker
  7. Purposefully transformative

1. Be pioneering pathfinders

Future partnerships will need to be not only practical problem solvers but also innovative and pioneering pathfinders. They will need to think beyond the demanding wicked issues and problems that they must address now towards those that may occur in the future. They must imagine what does not exist yet and take steps to address it.

They will need to identify, create and develop ground breaking ideas, approaches, products and services that will address the big problems to come and more effectively address those that exist now. They will need to put themselves at the cutting edge of good practice and encourage others to follow them.

Leading organisations and institutions have come together to create the UK Big Innovation Centre, a collaboration that seeks to encourage, lead and share cutting-edge creative thinking and innovation. The Australian Collabforge is a business that provides a central point for sharing and developing collaborative techniques and good practice, making the art of working in collaboration a valuable end in itself. Also, practical 'sharp-end' operational partnerships are rethinking their reasons for existing. Is a waste management partnership now evolving into an industry leading organisation with specialist expertise in processing and providing advanced resources?

These collaborations are the pioneers of pioneers, the pathfinders of pathfinders, and in becoming so they have successfully relabelled themselves as cutting edge providers of good practice and expertise rather than simply the logical and pragmatic solution to difficult problems.

How can your partnership become a pioneering pathfinder in its field? How can it positively label itself as a cutting edge provider of expertise? 

Most importantly, has your partnership asked the following questions:

  • What unexpected/previously unidentifiable things can we achieve together?
  • How are we going to make these things happen and how will we ensure they make a meaningful difference in the world?
  • How are we going to ensure that others are willing and able to follow our lead?                    

 Look out for future posts that will explore the six remaining aspects.


For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition

Friday, 12 July 2013

Don't call for action; call for a clean up!

As I read about and research the subject of collaborative and partnership working two words crop up time and time again: 'Clean up!'

Whether it be a request for people to work together to clean up a wiki page, service, system or process, or physically clean up a neighbourhood, be that of crime and/or garbage, the same words crop up again and again and again.

The cry 'clean up' appeals to a strong and instinctive urge we all have to band together and help out when something important to us is in need of care and attention.

Savvy partnerships looking to gain support and raise their profile know this. Rather than making a general 'call to action' they make a specific 'call to clean up', focusing their request upon a specific area in need of attention: the previously mentioned wiki page in need of urgent editing; a crucial service delivery system; a law in need of urgent updating and revision; a specific part of town that is in social and/or environmental decline.

A particularly interesting 'call to clean up' occurred during the public collaboration to create an Australian Bill of Rights. Members of the public were invited via a wiki to contribute their ideas about what should be included in such a Bill. As you can imagine, these were many and diverse and the time came when all the contributions needed to be edited and made legally compliant. A call went out to members of the Australian legal community to help out and 'clean up'. Enough responded to move the project forwards.

If the call to clean up is sufficiently focused and meaningful to those it is aimed at there will be a response. They will come; they will respond to an ancient need set deep within their DNA to band together and help out in times of difficulty, need or threat (or they might just be interested in helping out, doing what others are doing and seeing what develops).

So, what specific 'calls to clean up' could your collaboration make? Which ones would be most meaningful to those you are trying to attract? When would be the best times to make your calls? When would they be most likely to act as catalysts for your partnership's development and progress? 

Don't call for action; call for a clean up!


For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition

Friday, 5 July 2013

Encourage, create, identify and build upon catalytic moments

The cooperation project, a collaboration between Stanford University, The Institute for the Future and Howard Rheingold has identified specific 'levers' that can be adjusted to help a collaboration effectively form and develop. To see them click here and go to page 164 of Dr Elliot's thesis (you can also see the source document by clicking on the 'Rheingold' link at the bottom of page 163):

    http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4144387/elliott_phd_pub_08.10.07.pdf

The lever that stands out for me, given my practical interest in partnership and collaboration, is the 'Threshold Lever'. For a collaboration to develop, achieve its potential and fulfil its goals it needs to be able to encourage, create, identify and build upon catalytic or transformational moments that will help it push through a threshold, like gradually breaking through an increasingly taut net, towards the next phase of its development.

These catalytic, transformational moments can be planned and strategic, like the co-ordinated delivery of a high profile, short, sharp and impactful action (for example significantly improving the environment of a specific neighbourhood over a short space of time). Or they can be opportunistic and tactical, dealing with situations that crop up within a collaboration's area of interest and activity (for example addressing a sudden and unexpected increase in social and/or health issues and problems).

These catalysts, either strategic or tactical, help a collaboration do the following: focus its resources and activity; demonstrate its usefulness; attract additional partners, expertise, resources and support (all of which are key outcomes that help a partnership push through the threshold towards its next level of activity, influence and development).

In fact, these catalytic moments are very diverse and plentiful. The trick is to plan for and/or take advantage of them. When planning or reviewing your approach to collaboration make sure you consider the following questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the critical stages of your collaboration's development? What form do you think they will take and when do you think they will happen? What are you going to do to ensure you handle them effectively? (For example, will you need to ensure you attain a specific amount and quality of partners/volunteers? Will you need a certain amount of money and resources? Will you need to achieve local or national recognition and gain the support of certain key players? Will you need to achieve specific goals and outcomes? By when will all these things need to be achieved?)
  2. How will you ensure that you quickly respond to and effectively deal with situations and opportunities that present themselves as the collaboration goes about its work? How can you do this in a way that is helpful to not only the collaboration and its development but also those it is seeking to help? (For example, how will you scan your environment for possible situations and opportunities? Who will do this? How will you engage with the people and populations affected? How will you ensure that the collaboration is perceived as helpful and supportive rather than opportunistic and self serving?)

For more about collaboration and partnership go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition.   

http://www.tallistraining.co.uk/