Penny Edwards’ post – Are we really collaborating? – got me thinking. I’m wary of definition deckchairs, but I liked the idea of seeing a difference between collaboration and mere co-ordination. For me, collaboration involves something richer, more complex (so also messy), getting diverse groups to create things together. Co-ordination is more about getting everyone to stick to someone’s plan.
Sometimes, when people ask for facilitation, I sense an unconscious agenda that goes something like: can you facilitate these people to be more compliant? There’s a temptation to stay in the territory of the tidy and polite. But collaboration isn’t always going to be a nice, clean business. The most exciting stuff happens when people are willing to step out the polite zone, encounter some conflict and keep working till out of the apparent chaos something interesting, unplanned and exciting happens.