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.

4 thoughts on “Collaboration

  1. Patricia

    Facilitation is most needed when one of the three “C’s” is operating:

    – The Content to be worked with is complex,

    – There is high potential for Conflict, and/or

    – You must balance multiple stakeholder points of view: that is, Context.

  2. Roland

    Many semantic rivers to cross here but I agree with the points you raise. As a related aside, I think it is rather british to be too agreable on the surface at least, when what would be more constructive is a healthy debate. I say that as somebody born and bred in britain though of german and american heritage; 2 cultures which are famously more direct that the polite british demenour. Though neither culture is especially famed for their collabortion IQ either. What’s the most collaborative country/culture I wonder?

  3. Four Groups' Blog

    More on collaboration

    Johnnie points out a piece by Penny, both of whom talk about collaboration in its various forms. Penny sets the scene with the idea that;
    By recognising the nature of the interactions, we can better understand the restrictions of, and relationship betw…


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