presentation came as a result of work being done by James Samuel of
New Zealand for the
project. As he
attempted to find an effective way to communicate the “How” of that
project, he stumbled upon a model that could be applied to any
collaborative community project.Ever since coming across the work of
Towns and seeing how the
12 steps in the
work to keep a local
initiative on track, he noticed that the same 12 steps of
transitioning could be applied to an individual project. The six
steps suggested here have distilled and simplified this even
further, and you can
watch and listen to this 5 minute
video and then read the transcript, with its embedded
collaboration solves complex problems
The process of a community charrette is
more than just a public consultation process but rather a collective
process of community design. "Although charrettes include a
successful method for involving broad groups of stakeholders, the power
of the charrette goes beyond its role as a design-based public
involvement process. Charrettes do not solve problems through mediation
or conflict resolution. Charrettes solve problems through collaborative
The greater value of a charrette lies in its capacity to solve complex
problems that resist a conventional linear approach, such as community
planning. Community planning involves an intricate relationship between
multiple disciplines, typically planning, transportation engineering,
economics, environmental engineering and others. Each discipline has
their own standards based on solving their problem.
In a conventional approach these disciplines work in isolation, solving
their problems through their limited understanding of the deeper
issues. Too often a solution for the traffic engineer causes problems
for the land planner. The solution for the land planner causes problems
for the economist. The solution for the retailer causes problems for
the land planner. This results in dysfunctional planning and animosity
between disciplines. In a charrette people begin to see the problem in
bigger terms. They see the whole and in seeing the whole they become
willing to let go of their conventional approach to work as a
collaborative team to solve the core issues even if it means changing
the way they work and see things. Charrettes foster collaborative
problem solving of complex problems by creating a team of
holistic-minded practitioners out of specialists." --
National Charrette Institute
newsletter, June 2008
The author of The
Upside of Down, Thomas Homer-Dixon, speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Centre. He discusses the
challenges of dealing with complex issues such as climate change,
dealing with uncertainty, and fostering resilience in a globally
connected world. Society he says is
more likely to break down when multiple stresses occur
simultaneously. Like an earthquake, societal pressures—or "tectonic
stresses"—build up beneath the surface and are released by factors
that are difficult to anticipate, sometimes with catastrophic
results. Currently, the world is facing converging simultaneous
stresses, but "we need to have a better understanding of the
challenges we face before we can really start to talk in creative
ways about what we should do," he said. Homer-Dixon believes five
tectonic stresses—demographics, economics, environmental degradation, climate change, and energy
scarcity—threaten today's global order. These stresses are magnified by the
rising connectivity of societies, and by the growing ability of
small groups to cause widespread disturbance.
1) You need mechanisms in
place for effective collaboration.
Certainly, people can post bad things onto a wiki, a message board, or
a mailing list. The real question is, What systems are in place to deal
with this? The mechanisms of a wiki have proven highly effective and
have to do with the ability of the community to revise the content or
revert to a prior state, and the ability to block communication by
people who are causing trouble.
2) Online identity is important.
While safeguard mechanisms can address bad behaviour, the real leverage
over contributors is reputation. A real identity or a steady pseudonym
can gain reputation capital in a way that establishes credibility just
as a real name would offline. This is part of the moral contract of
3) A successful collaboration
requires a shared vision. Wales popinted to the example of a
successful wiki called wowwiki.com
, a wiki about the online computer game 'World of Warcraft'. There,
participants work together successfully because they have a shared
vision of the kind of work they are trying to complete: a comprehensive
guide to all things World of Warcraft. We see the same pattern over and
over: A charitable goal like that of Wikipedia is not necessary.
Neutrality is not necessary. But a shared vision is.
4) Organizations are becoming
Flat hierarchies are increasingly commonplace. They are incredibly
powerful due to technologies like
wikis that allow peer-to-peer communication without a lot of barriers.
This implies that cooperative relationships must not only be
established at the highest levels of organizations but throughout all
levels. The movement towards empowering employees and stewardship of
organizations means that peer-to-peer relationships need encouraging as
5) Speed is incredibly important.
A fast and flexible system will always beat a paranoid system that
wants to get everything right before publication. To paraphrase
Voltaire "the best is the enemy of the good".
"The essence of a small
that it operates by invitation and pure voluntarism. Small groups shift
the collective conversation towards discussions of possibility,
connections and community building...
a Positive Climate for Knowledge Sharing.
From a seminar given by Dr Paul Krivinos
in Christchurch New Zealand to the Christchurch chapter
of the New Zealand Knowledge Management network. Here's the main points:
If you want to create a negative
climate for knowledge sharing, there's lots of things you can do. Eg,
tell others that their ideas are stupid, disagree with them
AND put them down at the
To illustrate this behaviour Paul creatively used the
2006 Superbowl commercial from Fedex as
Really listening to others is a key
to open exchange of
information, and thus knowledge management. We need to get all of the
information onto the table.
Being proactive is another key to
information sharing instead of just being reactive.
Elements of this are supportiveness (giving credit to others), trust
(others have no fear that you will shoot the messenger if they bring
negative news), openness (willing to be candid with bad news),
participative decision making (the "collaboration" piece), and an
emphasis on high-performance goals.
If you’re getting bad press—or no press—for
a good project, you don’t have a communication problem, you have a
management problem. So engage the media the way you engage other key
stakeholders. Here’s how:
1. Do your homework. Know where locals get their news, and reach out to
reporters and editors who specialize in topics featured in the
charrette. Do it immediately, as part of pre-charrette research. And
make the contact personal, one-on-one.
2. Sell the process. Stress the charrette’s inclusiveness and its
bottom-line efficiency, both of which play to journalists’ values.
3. Anticipate rough spots. Assume reporters will be attracted to
conflict and personality, the two big drivers of daily journalism.
Defuse volatile issues with more information, not by secrecy.
4. Plan to explain and repeat. Journalists arrive with varying degrees
of knowledge and experience. Prepare fact sheets. Connect reporters
with experts who can frame key issues and bring them up to speed.
5. Protect the spirit of openness. Make clients and charrette team
leaders defend any attempt to exclude reporters from any part of the
6. Tell the truth even when it hurts. Admit problems. Allow no
misleading information to stand—even if it temporarily benefits you.
Honesty solidifies trust, which is the principal currency of
Excerpted from The Charrette Handbook, by Bill Lennertz and
Aarin Lutzenhiser, published by APA Planners Press, 2006.
Prepared by the National Education
Association Health Information Network
Involve a diverse
group of stakeholders
sufficient front-end time to build a strong foundation / prepare to
Conduct a needs
Articulate a data-driven
plan of action
Develop a shared
approach to meeting responsibilities
consistent and effective channels of communication
frequently: reassess, revise, and recommit
Consensus: Tips for Cooperation and Collaboration in Decision
Making, or How to Run Meetings So Everyone Wins
By Mark Shepard
Consensus means making
decisions by the united consent of all. It is noncoercive, as it avoids
imposing anyone’s will on others.
In consensus, the group
encourages the sharing of
all viewpoints held by those with interest in a topic. These viewpoints
are then discussed in a spirit of respect and mutual accommodation. New
ideas arise and viewpoints are synthesized, until a formula emerges
that wins general approval.
“organic”—unlike mechanical voting. Often, the final decision is
different from anyone’s original idea.
advantages. Consideration of all
viewpoints provides a more rounded view of the issue, leading to a
better decision. And a decision supported by everyone will avoid
resentment, division, and efforts to undermine it.
Consensus does not require
that everyone be
in complete agreement, but only that all be willing to accept—consent
to—a decision. If the group fails to accommodate your viewpoint after
fair effort, ask yourself if you feel strongly enough to uphold your
position. If not, it may be best to “stand aside.” Refusing to do so
might paralyze the group.
Consensus does not
give everyone an
equal voice. Some people know more and care more about an issue.
Naturally, their views should carry greater weight.
Better decisions often
take longer—in the short
run. Try not to make it worse. Before you speak, ask yourself whether
your statement is worth the group’s time. (To get an idea of this, you
could multiply your speaking time by the number of listeners.) If
someone else has said it, you may not need to. When you speak, be brief
and to the point—and say it only once.
If time is short and
the group is large, a matter
may need to be turned over to a smaller group. Try to cultivate the
mutual trust that allows this.
Be aware of how often
you speak. Of course, some
people will at times have more to offer. Still, you may have to stop
yourself from speaking too often, to avoid dominating. Or if you’re
shy, you may need to push yourself to speak. Consensus can fail if some
group members dominate.
A moment of silence can
work wonders in easing tensions.
A chosen facilitator
can help consensus by keeping
the discussion on track, encouraging good process, and posing
alternatives that may resolve differences. But a facilitator is a
servant, not a director, and assumes a neutral role. If a facilitator
wishes to take a stand on an issue, the task of facilitating is handed
to someone else.
Consensus makes special
demands on everyone. You must
respect and consider each other. You must have a sense of common
searching, instead of wanting to “win.” You must be sensitive and open
to each others’ ideas and feelings, and honestly try to accommodate
them. Finally, you must be dedicated to uncovering and pursuing
truth—even if it leads where you never expected.
Leadership: Awakening Possibility in Others
In closing the World Economic Forum Annual
Meeting January 27, 2008,Benjamin
Zander conductor of the Boston Philharmonic explores
the subject of how collaborative
innovation is orchestrated.
"The conductor depends for his power on making other people powerful"
The drivers that increasingly demand
collaborative solutions also require a shift from the modern day 'hero'
type leadership to a more traditional form of mobilizing community
resources, stewardship. Stewardship means the careful and responsible
management of something entrusted in our care. It recognizes the
necessity of shared leadership and that learders act on behalf of
others and not hemselves. While most organizations can benefit from
stewardship, according to Peter
Block, it is at the local level where
the clash of interests and the complexity of local challenges make
the need for stewardship is most self evident.
According to California's Alliance for Regional
Stewardship, "Regional stewardship
combines the idea of “regional citizenship” with “stewardship of
place.” Thus, regional stewards are more than just regional leaders;
they are special leaders who are committed to the long-term well-being
of their communities and regions."
"A distinction exists between regional government, governance, and
stewardship. Government is
the formal structure
that makes policy decisions and allocates public resources. Governance is the informal process
of business, government, and community collaboration that shapes
decisions and actions in a region. Stewardship
is the commitment of regional leaders to place.
"Regional stewards are leaders who are committed to the long-term
well-being of places. They are integrators who cross boundaries of
jurisdiction, sector, and discipline to address complex regional issues
such as sprawl, equity, education, and economic development. They see
the connection between economic, environmental, and social concerns and
they know how to “connect the dots” to create opportunities for their
regions. Regional stewards are leaders who combine 360 degree vision
with the ability to mobilize diverse coalitions for action."
From: Regional Stewardship: A
Commitment to Place by Doug Henton, John
Melville, Kim Walesh, Chi Nguyen, and John Parr, Alliance
for Regional Stewardship, Palo Alto, California, 2000. For full article
Don Tapscott talks about some of the ideas his recent book Wikinomics, and how organizations
are enaging large numbers of people to resolve complex problems and
contribute to shared solutions.
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