Developing Collaboration Expertise

Who do you know who would like to be better at collaboration? It seems that working more effectively with others is something that almost everyone would value.

So I’ve been very excited to realise that the skills I’ve been teaching for years can make a huge difference to this, very quickly.

IMG_0977On Friday, for example, I was working with a group at OuiShare London. The event was too short to be “proper” Systemic Modelling – but in just a few hours, the participants (many of whom had never met before) were connecting at a pretty profound level.

As organiser Neil Brook said: “There is very little else I would rather have been doing than learning more about how we can better understand each other and work together. This was incredibly useful in understanding existing relationships, and establishing new ones on a much deeper level than any approach I’ve seen so far. Brilliant! More please!”

So, what are these collaboration skills that make the difference? It’s more than just “X-Ray Listening”, and it’s more than just “Clean Language”.

I think the list is something like this:

  • Listening and asking good questions
  • Thinking more clearly
  • Giving usable feedback
  • Appreciating diversity
  • Speaking up
  • Resolving and preventing conflicts.

We couldn’t cover all of that in a half-day in the sunshine – but we moved a long way towards it.

And all of those skills point to another, more profound, skill – the skill of modelling.

To quote from Clean Language: “At its simplest, modelling is about noticing how other people do things…

“As the questioner gives the speaker their full attention, and listens to their actual words, they are building their own mental ‘diagram’ of what the person is saying. In the jargon, this diagram is called a ‘model’ and the process of constructing it, ‘modelling’.

“By creating their own model, the questioner is able to imagine how the pieces of information fit together for the speaker and can therefore ask targeted questions to help them fill in crucial details. Also, when the questioner models, it encourages the speaker to self-model, which is an important part of the process. This means that each person is building their own model of the speaker’s experience, usually in metaphoric form.”

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