Tools for collaboration - practical

At a basic level Collaborative Partnerships involves individuals coming together acknowledging each other’s skills and experiences and working towards an agreed outcome. 

Some practical learning from experience:

  • It’s always important to explain the principles of  collaborative working to the group, in order that you all agree to move the project forward in this way.  Introduce Debate versus Dialogue, this is often a useful starting point.
  • Everybody should introduce themselves and what they would like the group to achieve; in short why are you here?  This starts to understand everybody’s values and you can then identify shared aims and goals
  • Always think about breaking larger groups into smaller groups, this helps less dominant people in the room be heard during discussions
  • Role model how the group should behave, refer to Debate versus Dialogue or point out when a ‘Move’ has been made (4 Player model).  And remember keep it judgemental!
  • Allow space for the group to get to know each other socially, this is how strong relationships are formed and the work will need these
  • Highlight ‘Action Bias’ early – groups often run to solutions or actions, that is assuming we know what the problem is and how to fix it.
  • Two leaders is helpful as a minimum; one to project manage and keep the pace, the other to check the group is managing to work collaboratively, or identify when it’s not and for the group to be ok with this.
  • Words build worlds – create a collective understanding using the vocabulary that comes from the group
  • Always reflect in pairs after each meeting. were there problems with the process? How collaborative did it feel?  What needs to happen next time in order for the group to feel meaningful?