Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0139 | February 10, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...


Dear friends,

Often groups have an open philosophy about cooperation and collaboration, yet they lack some of the basic skills necessary to pull this off. This week's article, 'Successful Creative Collaboration," draws on tips from the book, "Creative Collaboration: Tools for Inspired Teamwork," to help groups use tools to effectively create together.

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please
email them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

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Group Management Skill
Successful Creative Collaboration
The Point


Organizations often often say they want to collaborate and cooperate. But even those who have good intentions often lack the skills and know-how to make successful collaboration a reality. The result is neither creative nor collaborative. So the question is: "How can we ensure that when we meet, we collaborate effectively and creatively?" Here are fourteen key guidelines to guide you and your teams.

Application


1) Diverge when you diverge; converge when you converge; deliver when you deliver. The three key processes that occur in a collaborative meeting are diverging, converging and delivering. That is to say: generating ideas, making decisions and giving and getting information. Often in meetings, these processes get mixed up. One person is generating ideas, another is sharing information, and still another is making a decision. This does not work since each of these processes has it own set of rules and mental operations that work best with that process. We suggest that you do only one process per agenda item. Make it clear to the group what process you are using. This may be the most important thing you do to create a creative collaborative team.

2) Ensure equal contribution. Provide an opportunity for everyone on the team to contribute to the team's discussions and problem-solving process. This means that when you generate ideas, everyone's ideas are heard -- no idea is better than another. It implies that when you discuss an issue,
everyone gets a say. That when you make decisions, you tap into the best thinking of everyone in the meeting. It means leveling the playing field, not to be "fair" but to leverage the talents and perspectives you've brought together.

3) Communicate all team changes to the entire team. No one likes surprises and everyone wants to be included in communication around changes. Communicating up front lowers resistance and provides team members the option to influence the changes and decision-making.

4) Align on purpose. Spend time going over the mission of the team and/or project and the purpose of each of the group tasks. Make sure everyone agrees on what you want to get out of the collaboration. Your success requires a clear understanding of the team and meeting's purpose. The purpose provides the context needed for everyone to be on the same page at the same time, working with a shared understanding of why they are doing what they are doing.

5) Establish processes. Make sure you use processes for generating ideas, making decisions, resolving conflicts and solving problems that are clear to everyone on the team. With an understanding of how to go about solving problems and making decisions on the team, team members can better focus on the "what," the task at hand, rather than the "how," the process.

6) Record the process, ideas, decisions and results. Record the meeting so that all members have equal visual access and can see the work in progress. For example, use a flip chart and assign a recorder.

7) Accept and value diversity in knowledge, ideas and styles. Make sure that all ideas, knowledge and styles are embraced. Find ways to get your team members to not only be open and respectful but to actually value different points of view. A competitive advantage often emerges from ideas originally supported by a minority. Reinforce good listening. A good team listener listens attentively to ideas and perspectives they don't like.

8) Articulate the norm. As a team, co-create a set of guidelines or ground rules for how team members should treat one another. These guidelines will make it clear what is expected of one another. An example of a guideline might be "only one person talking at a time"

9) Allow the process to play itself out. Tension and conflict are natural parts of a team. It is also natural for a team to be in "nowhere land," in a state of ambiguity. Encourage members to tolerate the stress, ambiguity and conflict. Help them realize that it is a natural part of the creative process.

10) Celebrate. At the end of each phase or step of a project, celebrate the successes and the failures. Even just mentioning that you reached a milestone can be a celebration of sorts. Proverbial celebrations like group lunches, toasting, giving gifts, etc., should not be overlooked.

11) Create self-awareness. Make sure that you take the time as a team to evaluate how the team is doing, how well you are meeting your goals and how well you are using collaboration tools. Spend a few minutes at the end of every meeting to provide feedback and enable your team to continuously
improve its work together.

12) Recognize introverts and extroverts. Include processes that focus on both introverted approaches (e.g., alone time for generating ideas) and extroverted approaches (e.g., group time for generating ideas). Some people think better by themselves with no distractions and some like the
stimulation of others. Most of us need both.

13) Pace the Group. It is important in a group to pace your work If you move too slowly, you'll bore your team members and sap some of their energy. If you move too quickly you'll lose most of your team members. Stay flexible and get feedback on your speed. The right pacing will differ from team to team. A good rule of thumb is to increase your pace when you diverge and slow down when you converge.

14) Use warm-ups, energizers and juicers throughout your meetings. We tend to over pack our meetings and end up with little time to set the stage for great participation and collaboration. But if you take the time to energize and juice your group, you'll get better results, more creative ideas,
better participation, diverse perspectives, more energy, better decisions.


Adapted from "Creative Collaboration: Tools for Inspired Teamwork," by Bruce Honig, Alain Rostain
Action

Do you see value in adding any of these principles to your group strategy sessions? Please
email us your thoughts on this topic.
New Facilitator's Guide

We're pleased to announce the release of another new Facilitator's Guide, " Becoming a Learning Facilitator. This 55-page ebook is packed with useful models, strategies, and approaches to re-energizing your approach to teaching and training. Here's a quick summary of the table of contents.

Introduction
A Brief History of Teaching
An Integral Learning Model

Learning Content
The medium is the message
"Ability to do" vs. Info delivery
Covey Habit Model
From curriculum development to needs assessment

The Learning Facilitator
Role distinctions
Shift from Director to Guide
Core Values of the Learning Facilitator
Getting Full Participation
Prepare like crazy then let it go
Trainer self-assessment

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Kolb's Learning Styles
Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (VAK) Model Brain-Based Learning
Communities of Practice
Control Theory
Multiple Intelligences
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Temperament & Teaching Styles
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Elements of a “Learning Culture”
A Learning Culture and Contemporary Society

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Kolb Learning Cycle
Instruction Events
Socratic Method
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Resources

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Resource


Creative Collaboration: Tools for Inspired Teamwork,
by Bruce Honig, Alain Rostain

This guide is filled with activities designed to get your team's creative juices flowing: from warm-up exercises to team energizers. Each activity includes a time estimate, needed supplies, suggested group size, and hints and examples for the team leader.


About the Publisher

Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their businesses on and off line. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!
 
 
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