Building Will Around Collaboration

February 21, 2014 Leave a comment
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This post is the third in a three part series exploring the question, “Can collaboration be learned?” Part 1 and Part 2 appeared the last couple of days.  This is an edited email exchange between Alison Gold of Living Cities, Chris Thompson of The Fund for our Economic Future, and myself.  When we last left off, Alison had posed a series of questions about identifying and cultivating the will to collaborate.

On January 27, 2014 12:33 PM, Curtis Ogden wrote:

Alison, I really like your questions and feel like they would be great to take to a wider audience.  I will say that I am profoundly influenced by Carol Sanford’s  mentoring in all of this, and the belief that personal development is key to evolving our will, moving from a more self-centered perspective to “other” perspective, to understanding the symbiotic nature of different levels of systems.  I think that some of what we at IISC have seen and helped develop as skillful and deeply rooted “Facilitative Leadership” is indicative of an evolved will that balances agency with external considering.  Facilitative Leadership includes the following:

  • Embodying authenticity (being real)
  • Accepting “others as legitimate others” (Humberto Maturana’s definition of love)
  • Demonstrating concern for equity and fairness, not just as moral imperatives, but as keys to survival
  • Curiosity, receptivity, and flexibility
  • The ability to see patterns
  • Recognizing and engaging power dynamics while leveraging privilege for collective benefit
  • Cultivating individual, organizational, larger systemic/network development
  • Creating conditions for people to be their best value-adding selves

On Jan 27, 2014 1:29 PM, Chris Thompson wrote:

This is very helpful perspective and echoes a lot of the work of Paul Born of the Tamarack Institute, who is one of the leading advocates of Collective Impact. His book Community Conversations is invaluable in this area.  More specifically, I believe that there are signs that key stakeholders indeed have the “will” to collaborate at the collective impact level. Organizations that have the will:

  • Value data more than opinions.
  • Focus on creating value not protecting turf.
  • Assume shared responsibility for sustaining the capacity to collaborate rather than insisting it is someone else’s responsibility.

On January 28, 2014 9:18 AM, Curtis Ogden wrote:

Thanks, Chris.  For what it’s worth, I came across this Vaclav Havel quote today, and it seems relevant to this notion of building will around collaboration:

“By perceiving ourselves as part of the river, we take responsibility for the river as a whole.”

Tell us your experiences. Do you think we “take responsibility for the river as a whole?Share your thoughts with us at: Alison Gold @AKGold11, Chris Thompson @ccarsonthompson, Curtis Ogden @curtisogden, or leave a comment below.

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