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Mechanisms of Collaboration and Engagement

This talk to the IPAC annual conference on August 21 2012 addresses the question why, if collaboration is so good and beneficial, then why do we not do it more often or more successfully?

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Mechanisms of Collaboration and Engagement

  1. 1. Collaborative Co-Governance: A checklist approach to collaboration Presentation & Panel discussion to the 64th Annual Conference of IPAC, “Navigating Uncharted Waters: Embracing the Tides of Change,” St. John’s, NFLD, August 19 – 22, 2012.08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 1 University of Ottawa
  2. 2. Top Ten Tips1. Don’t depend on agreements but on people & a collaborative process of inquiry2. When no one is in charge, leadership is usually the problem3. Expect failure. Prepare for it and be saved by it.4. The problem doesn’t lie in changing someone else’s behaviour but in creating shared ownership & changing our own5. Answers are not more important than questions. Answers get in the way. Experts don’t listen. Action is not better than dialogue.6. The vitality of any partnership depends on its diversity and the integrating conversations that go on among its members7. The assumption that ‘government knows best’ is false8. We don’t need more rules, stricter accountability & harsher punishments. We need accountability to be accepted & mistakes to be learned from9. We can not compel people to voluntarily collaborate10. Collaboration is not too hard or too difficult. It’s just that we don’t understand how to do it. Mostly we indulge in fantasies08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 2 University of Ottawa
  3. 3. Cooperation ContinuumCompetition Coordination Cooperation Collaboration Partnership▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ Increasing interdependence & interaction • The degree of cooperation we choose, should align with the issue complexity and level of our inter-dependence – As complexity & interdependence change, the form of cooperation should also change • The form of cooperation should be chosen to help mitigate the tendency towards rational self interest & being caught in “social traps” 08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 3 University of Ottawa
  4. 4. Does your experience of collaboration sound like this? 1. You and your partners clearly share a common purpose 2. Your meetings are focused on collective learning, understanding the issue, and prioritizing your options -- not on making decisions 3. You look forward to your meetings because you are excited by them, they are both creative and productive 4. When you meet together, there are moments of collective transcendence when things just ‘click’ and you all experience new degrees of clarity, energy and enthusiasm 5. You work effortlessly by consensus 6. Your work saves both time & money & creates new resources 7. Your work produces more comprehensive & innovative outcomes 8. Your work produces better quality outcomes 9. Your work ensures stronger support during implementation 10. It is likely the collaboration will lead to life-long friendships08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 4 University of Ottawa
  5. 5. Or is it more like this?1. We were forced into it2. Collaboration was an act of desperation – “Collaboration is an unnatural act between non-consenting adults.”3. People keep asking “why are we all here?”4. You’re tired of repeating yourself; having your partners complain they don’t understand you; & that you don’t understand them5. You feel that you only have a ‘token’ presence6. “We all say we want to collaborate, but what we really mean is that we want to keep doing things the same while others adapt to what we’re doing”7. You spend most of your time trying to make decisions w/o really understanding what’s going on8. Partners frequently don’t show up at meetings and then they complain that decisions were made without them.9. The commitment of your partners disappears right when it’s time to get down to the real work10. Nothing seems to have been accomplished by all of this. The sooner we’re finished with this experience the better08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 5 University of Ottawa
  6. 6. If not the former, why not?08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 6 University of Ottawa
  7. 7. Top Ten Practice Barriers 1. Unclear purpose  Online this may mean an unclear prototype / possibility 2. Unable to continually demonstrate value for effort 3. Lack of champion (s)  There is there no one responsible for building trust & moving info around 4. Unwillingness to invest in relationships  not paying enough attention to people or incentivizing their participation 5. Unable to listen to each other  How do people know they have been heard? 6. Spending too much time on decision making  And not enough on learning 7. Inappropriate decision making processes  Use of coercion, selling, voting, rushing to action instead of consensus.  No failsafe mechanisms 8. People fail to treat partners as partners 9. People are too trusting of contracts 10. Your (their) organization does not fully support the decisions of the partnership.08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 7 University of Ottawa
  8. 8. We Don’t Understand How to Collaborate• We use incorrect assumptions• We lack the appropriate skills• We suffer from a Collective Learning Disability• To collaborate better we need: – A new organizational paradigm – To make use of heuristics – To collect a ‘tool box’ of affordances – To apply an inquiring system of collaborative governance08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 8 University of Ottawa
  9. 9. Top Ten Incorrect Assumptions1. Collaboration will be spontaneous – we won’t fail so we don’t pay attention to reasons for failure – we have faith that a well written contract will protect us2. We need to avoid conflict3. Better leaders are needed to make better choices4. The challenge is in changing the behaviour of others5. We believe we have all the knowledge needed – answers are more important than questions – if we can solve the problems of the past we can predict the future6. We are not all equal (in particular, government is special)7. Good leaders make good collaborators8. Action is the key to success9. Collaborative relationships come at a high cost – although less than the cost of implementing w/o consensus10. Experience is transportable. Each case is unique.08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 9 University of Ottawa
  10. 10. Collaboration Skills• Socialization practices – Pre-collaboration, getting to possibility, shared purpose, trust building• Design practices – Structuring the process w/o structuring the outcome• Engagement practices – Empowerment, personalizing, building ownership & commitment• Trust practices – Building confidence in each other, re-affirming trust & moral contracting• Governance practices – Purpose, principles, people, concepts, structure & processes – Working to consensus & multiple accountability• Operational practices – Appropriate & fair sharing of risks, rewards & workloads• Information practices – Satisfying learning, contingent cooperation & multiple accountabilities• Learning practices – Developing an inquiring system – Developing common language & knowledge – Prototyping, experiential learning, connoisseurship,08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 10 University of Ottawa
  11. 11. Our Collective Learning Disability• 3 Handicaps a) a tendency to wallow in oversimplified stylizations of complex systems b) the reluctance to abandon worn-out conventional management practices c) the tendency to slip into fanciful thinking when it comes to how successful collaboration will ultimately materialize.08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 11 University of Ottawa
  12. 12. An Inquiring System for Collaboration Observational Does the situation need changing? Info Gathering Relationships Learning How do we learn Trust What is the InvestigativeWhile Doing together & evaluate Learning problem? our progress? Doing Feedback How can we work together? Relationship Design 08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 12 University of Ottawa
  13. 13. A Collaborative ChecklistDoes the What is the problem? How will you work How will you learnsituation need together? together & evaluate yourchanging? progress?1. Are there any 6. What is the task at hand? STRUCTURAL DESIGN 12. What feedback & informationaldetectable anomalies? 10. What practices of loops do you need to enable social 7. What are the non-negotiable collaboration and social learning learning?2. What are the salient constraints within the can you use to produce short term 13. What processes of formal andfeatures of the issue community or society? success & long term commitment? informal collective learning do youdomain? have in place?3. What are the causal 8. Who are the stakeholders CULTURE OF 14. How will you gauge ongoing mechanisms at that must be included and how COLLABORATION performance and partner play? will you involve them? 11. What are the conventions & contributions objectively? moral contracts required to 15. How will you gauge changes in maintain a culture of attitudes & behaviours among collaboration? partners?4. Can this be resolved 9. What are the risks and 16. How will you resolve conflicts?by a single actor? potential rewards among the various partners, and how will 17. What failsafe / safe-fail these be aligned?5. Who are the key mechanisms are in place?stakeholders? 18. At what point would you dissolve the collaboration?08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 13 University of Ottawa
  14. 14. Blind Men & the Elephant08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 14 University of Ottawa
  15. 15. Thank you Christopher Wilson chris@christopherwilson.ca Tel: 613-355-650508/26/12 Centre on Governance, 15 University of Ottawa
  16. 16. Appendix – Creating a Collaborative Toolbox • Does the situation need changing? • Effective What is the problem? • How will you work together? all collaboration is • How will youabouttogether & evaluate your learn creating progress? opportunities for • Helpful Definitions effective co-learning • List of heuristics08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 16 University of Ottawa
  17. 17. Does the situation need changing?• Generosity – Demonstrate your cooperativeness by sharing what you know/have.• Shopping the idea – exploring vs deciding• Scenario exercises – “what if…” – Change assumptions & where does that lead you?• Stakeholder mapping – Value networks of tangible and intangible exchanges• The invitation conversation – Invite them to explore an alternative future– no prior commitment – Not just invitation to talk but may lead to joint work & shared contributions – Allow them to say “no”• Set the agenda for your 1st on- or off-line meeting together• Recognize what each participant brings to the table If you’re not part – Potential gifts & assets of organization and/ or person of the problem, – Identify everyone’s cost of participation how can you be – Each person’s contribution to the problem part of the – Tabling ‘your story’ solution?08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 17 University of Ottawa
  18. 18. What is the Issue?• The possibility conversation – What is the future you would like to bring into reality? • Use discussion papers, online mock-ups, “photo shopped” pictures • What new value will be created for everyone? • What issues, problems, harms must be avoided & what can be mitigated?• Business planning – What milestones need to be achieved? – What are the assumptions you are working with & how will you tell if they are right? – Define the ‘pains & gains’ for each partner – Who is best positioned to deal with what risk?• Which stakeholders do you include in the process? – Periodic Those who will contribute; those who can block; those affected by your decisions; & those with Public & relevant knowledge Core Task Force Meetings & Consultations Media – How will you mobilize their support? • Always invite them – Circles of involvement • Let them choose when and how they want to participate• The commitment conversation – What are the promises am I willing to make to this enterprise? – What is the price I am willing to pay for the success of the whole effort? • Reject lip service• Contracting & MOUs – Define the tangible & intangible risks / benefits for everyone? – Treat as learning opportunity to discover your partners08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 18 University of Ottawa
  19. 19. How will you work together?• Structural design – How will you be together? • Changing how you are together today, changes the future you want to share – Build stewardship over leadership • how can I help? – Work by consensus • Agreement by most, acquiescence by the rest Working together • Avoid voting & arbitrary decision making except as failsafe – Use empowered and devolved decision making takes attention – Structure more time for learning than deciding • Questions vs answers • Have 50-70% of time dedicated to learning – 360o accountability • Formal accountability, mutual accountability & imposed accountability (media, public) – Formalize how collaborative decisions are transferred to home organizations08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 19 University of Ottawa
  20. 20. How will you work together?• Culture of Cooperation – Use brokers / trusted mavens & connectors – Use more endogenous (value laden) feedback as interdependence increases • Informal meetings, face-to-face, coffee, meals, networking – Practices of generosity • Don’t take exclusive ownership, you’re not in charge • There is profit from having a reputation of generosity – Monitoring • Coordinator, staff exchanges, co-location, reporting, networking, forums – Application of sanctions • Willingness to confront & deal with deception and misinformation • Define the penalties of non-cooperation – Define & use failsafes • What are the unacceptable conditions if collaboration fails • Who makes the decision if the group can not? • Establish conflict resolution method upfront, contract conditions – Have you created safe-fail spaces? – Celebrations • Define & publicly celebrate milestones08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 20 University of Ottawa
  21. 21. How will you learn together?• Contracting & MOUs seen primarily as tools for mutual understanding not for forcing compliance• Build common knowledge resources, shared language• Use action as a tool for co-learning – Don’t rush to action – Baby steps to build confidence & mutual understanding – Set up feedback mechanisms to monitor progress• Bricolage – Trial & error (heuristic problem solving) – Action, assessment, evaluation & adjustment – Double loop learning • How does implementation change your business model?• Build in necessary staff training – Training in collaboration skills, practices and mechanisms – Change management & technical training• Prior distribution of materials & documents w/ appropriate lead times before meetings – Make meetings mostly about learning08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 21 University of Ottawa
  22. 22. How will you evaluate your progress? • Contracting & MOUs – Vehicles for goal setting, targets and baseline data • Adopt a developmental evaluation approach – Learning as you go • Establish agreeable metrics – Metrics for trust – Metrics for learning – Metrics for results – Re-visit regularly the efficacy of the metrics you use • Establish coordinator / champions – Use as channels for moving both codifiable & tacit knowledge • Coffee, meals, networking – Informal info exchanges often have the biggest payoff • Electronic info exchanges, wikis – Ensure ownership remains with partners & not any one group • Regular reporting – Use champions to circulate08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 22 University of Ottawa
  23. 23. Helpful Definitions• Consultation – Process of obtaining input from the public (usually 1-way) on matters that affect them. In state of disrepute: those consulting pretend to listen & those consulted pretend that their input matters• Cooperation – individuals or organizations support each other in a common interest, instead of working separately or in competition. Informal & often commitment-lite• Collaboration – individuals and/or organizations work together towards some defined common goal. Collaboration is usually to accomplish together what could not be done independently — cooperating in decision making, resource sharing and action. Some joint governance (steering committee) and agreement (MOU) implied• Partnership – a collaborative entity in which participating ‘partners’ formally and legally agree to share risks, costs, benefits and decision making with each other. Joint governance is required & that is usually spread throughout the organizations• Networking – the various practices involving interacting, exchanging and building relationships among people including formal and informal meetings; social media; professional exchanges, etc..No commitments implied.• Social traps – Where people engaged in cooperation act ‘rationally’ to obtain short-term individual gains (free-rider), which in the long run lead to a loss of value for them & the group as a whole – everyone loses08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 23 University of Ottawa
  24. 24. Heuristic Strategies • Meta-heuristics – Change / Vary; Cycle / Repeat • Master Heuristics – Build up / Eliminate – Work forwards / Work backwards • Strategies for Set Manipulation – Associate / Classify – Generalize / Exemplify – Compare / Relate • Strategies for Involvement – Commit / Defer; Leap in / Hold back; Focus / Release; Force / Relax ; Dream / Imagine; Purge / Incubate Source: How to Make Collaboration Work, David Straus, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 200208/26/12 Centre on Governance, 24 University of Ottawa
  25. 25. Heuristic Strategies (cont’d)• Strategies for Manipulating Information – Display / Organize; List / Check; Diagram / Chart; Verbalize / Visualize• Strategies for Information Retrieval – Memorize / Recall; Record / Retrieve; Search / Select• Strategies for Dealing with the Future – Plan / Predict; Assume / Question; Hypothesize / Guess; Define / Symbolize; Simulate / Test• Strategies for Physical Manipulation – Play / Manipulate; Copy / Interpret; Transform / Translate; Expand / Reduce; Exaggerate / Understate; Adapt / Substitute; Combine / Separate08/26/12 Centre on Governance, 25 University of Ottawa