Mapping The Collaborative Journey

At a recent Conference I was asked how Twyfords came up with our collaborative pathway
This is how I responded (as best that I can recall).
‘Well it happened like this. Being actively into Appreciative Inquiry we decided, as a team, to enquire into our very best experiences working on projects where there was genuine intent, openness to doing things differently, and where enduring solutions or wise decisions eventuated.

When we talked about those experiences, especially when we focused on the outcomes, we couldn’t help but to then enquire into what contributed to that kind of success. Or to use the language of Appreciative Inquiry, we wanted to identify the root causes of success and also to understand the positive core of those who were part of that success.

This is what happened. We identified that when enduring solutions emerged, or at least decisions were well supported, the ‘community of interest’ was genuinely involved in developing, or co-creating, that solution. Fairly obvious, but then we had to ask, what led to a diverse range of people and organisations being willing to do that.

What we then identified is that people became more willing to co-create solutions when they have agreed on the process by which they would work together (i.e., working out governance arrangements, and ways of working together). In addition, it was necessary that the participants agreed on what they were trying to address (common purpose); they have co-defined the questions or dilemmas they were attempting to address.

Great – but how did that come about? Sometimes it is hard to get people together who see things very differently. When we enquired into that we found there had been a process of dialogue, deep respect for differences, understanding or various interests. So how did we get to that point?

Well, basically whatever it takes. But it needs to come from those initiating the journey to operate from a mindset conducive to collaborating. This involves making a commitment to appreciating what others bring, of exploring interests, of being willing to let go and change direction, and to expect that something creative, and better, will come from the process.

Having mapped all that, we ran the ‘model’ from beginning to end, and that is when we arrived at our five step collaborative pathway. We no longer describe it as a model as it makes more sense to regard it as simply a roadmap or a pathway. Having applied it in practice on numerous and very different projects we are discovering that it can take many different shapes and iterations. However, we are encouraged about how it complements and connects with the Collective Impact approach.
Collab Pathway Illustration
Lots to learn and keep learning no doubt, but this is the story of how it (i.e., Twyfords’ Collaborative Pathway) came about based on many experiences, projects, stories, frustrations, exhilaration and celebrations. It’s been said that all models are false, but some are useful. Check out this slide show that helps to illustrate our journey

I have found applying the approach to be incredibly useful, and I continue to learn every time I try to tackle something complex in a new way. Needless to say, it is never boring!

The blog was first published on Twyfords website 4th August, 2014



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