col·lab·o·rate

kəˈlabəˌrāt/

verb: work jointly on an activity, esp. to produce or create something.

We Came. We Spoke. We Listened. We Collaborated.

Our Effective Collaboration workshop was a success! With a full house of thirty-five participants from various walks of life such as city planners, professionals, healers, for-profit businesses, and non-profit organizations, we discussed what collaboration means to each of us and what are the key elements to effectively collaborate. Mycelium’s Learning Catalyst, Ashley Cooper, shared the details of the event and relayed the results of the collaborative workshop.

To begin, we heard everyone’s story, providing more insight on the individuals within the workshop. These stories were diverse, making them a truly inspirational group. Attendees reflected that the workshop was “an experience and exploration”. One stated, “We’re actually already collaborating with people we don’t know” through discussion and inquiry.

collaborationThe method we used to reach these wonderful results was the Consensus Workshop Method. It intends to help a group work quickly and efficiently through difficult problems. First of all, we talked about what is effective collaboration by splitting up into groups of three or four. Each group was told to come to a consensus on four ideas they deemed most important and again. When all ideas were collected, the facilitator and the collaborating participants then looked at all of them and paired them into columns and clustered in terms of relevance. They then were told to look back at their original list and compare. What did we miss the first time around? Ideas continued to be added to the list and grouped until all essential ideas were voiced. Mission accomplished.

Out of all the ideas that constitute effective collaboration, here are some that we all agreed upon.

1. Working with the Self: This means reflecting on how the self fits into the team. This could include knowing how to be a good listener as only those with an open mind and ears will learn from others. This also includes knowing how to be vulnerable by handing power to others, trusting others to complete a task in a team.

2. We-Space: This refers to how everyone in a team is responsible for each other. This is the oil that keeps various parts of the team working. What do I need to know about my teammates? What is their backstory? How can I put myself into their shoes and understand them so that I might know, for example, why they come in cranky every morning, why they leave work early on certain days, or don’t like to talk about certain things. This all helps with making a better team. Most importantly, it is crucial that within the space, the individuals are all dedicated to the mission and purpose of the group.

Another valuable insight from the workshop came from a businessman. He told us that while we had a very clear view of the social and emotional needs in an organization, there was a need for stronger protocols, clear agendas, and marketing. This was much needed input, which will be put into consideration in the future. After all, every team needs someone who is skilled on the business side of affairs to make sure the team can logistically run smoothly.

Also, during the brainstorming it never surfaced how important the facilitator was for effective collaboration. It was only in reflection that facilitation as a key ingredient to effective collaboration was recognized. We attributed this oversight to the skill of our facilitator Kathleen Osta, President of Vital Clarity. Kathleen is an Asheville-based, national consultant and facilitation expert. She helps businesses articulate a shared vision for their future and develop plans to bring that vision into reality.

Lenoir-Rhyne University, where the workshop was held, will also be teaming with us on an entire course on collaboration skills. We are excited to be working with LRU along with Center for Collaborative Awareness and A Co-Creative Path on this course on Collaboration. There is much to look forward to.

Post by Victoria Yu