“I help teams which experience communication challenges to work together better using a process called Collaboration Dynamics. I see teams improving the flow of information, developing relationships, and reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.”
A new friend, Roy Marriott, asked me some good questions this week about my work with teams. “Who are the people who I should be introducing you to? And what’s your offer to them – what problems do you help them solve, what difference do you make?”
It’s not the first time I’ve been asked these things, by any means. But it’s a good time. I’m doing a lot more work with teams these days, and talking to more prospective customers, and so the answers are becoming clearer.
Here’s my latest take. Comments, anyone?
What’s The Offer?
I help teams which experience communication challenges to work together better by improving the flow of information, developing relationships, and reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
The process, Collaboration Dynamics, builds team members’ skills in three foundation collaboration competencies:
- Paying attention
- Directing attention
- Speaking up.
As an integral part of the process of learning, it applies these skills to tackling the real-life communication challenges of the team. As a result:
- Participants communicate more effectively both within the team and beyond
- Information flows more easily and transparently: misunderstandings are reduced
- Working relationships are improved and conflicts become more creative.
What’s more, participants tend to become actively aware by other people’s views of reality, and how they differ from their own. The benefits of that include:
- An atmosphere of respectful curiosity both within the team and in dealing with other stakeholders
- People understanding each other – and feeling deeply understood
- Uncovering what people really mean, and clearing up misperceptions
- Reduction in “politics” and point-scoring, and an increase in openness and trust
- Collaboration, learning and development become inevitable.
Who Benefits Most?
The process is most successful with teams which:
- Are engaged in collaborative, creative and innovative work in complex contexts
- Have strong technical, scientific and/or academic skills
- Are reasonably fluent in English
- Experience communication challenges such as frequent misunderstandings, “silo” working, or ineffective meetings.
Teams using Agile methods have found this process especially valuable.
Team members can be based all in one place, or all remote, or a mixture of the two.
I’d love to be introduced to anyone who leads a small or medium-sized organisation which has teams like that, or anyone who leads that kind of team and would like some help.
The people who hire me tend to have titles like “head of delivery”, “head of operations”, “programme director”… that kind of thing.
What About Some Examples?
What’s My Work With Teams Based On?
Collaboration Dynamics is underpinned by the precision inquiry methodology Clean Language, devised by the late David Grove, and on later development by Caitlin Walker and others.
- Inherently values diversity and difference
- Exploits on apparently-universal principles
- Fits with modern “enabling” approaches to leadership
- Works across cultures and in a wide variety of contexts
- Uses metaphor – the atom of thought – to spark powerful conversations.
The Collaboration Dynamics teaching process is facilitative, collaborative and open, maximising engagement and minimising top-down, chalk-and-talk teaching. This ensures that learning goes beyond the level of theory and actually changes real-world behaviour.
However, care is taken to provide clear signposts, especially in the early stages, reassuring those who may be less familiar with emergent approaches.
At the core of the process is series of activities, many of them involving work in pairs or threes. While the “taught” parts of the event will be in English, the small-group activities can be conducted either in English or a local language.
For an in-person workshop (typically two days, divided by a week or so), we will need:
- a circle of chairs (no tables)
- enough space for pairs to spread out for activities
- a flip chart and the ability to stick flip chart sheets to the walls
- some sticky notes and marker pens.
For a series of remote video calls (typically six weekly 90-minute calls), each participant needs:
- an internet-connected device
- a webcam and headset
- a quiet place to call from.
Work With Teams: Next Steps
If I can help you, or if you can introduce me to someone who could use my help, please contact me.
And if you have a question or comment which might improve this description, please post below!
- The above reflects my personal preferences, experiences and focus. Lots of people do different kinds of work with teams, or work with a different kinds of team, using Clean Language. Lots of people do quite similar work in languages other than English. If you’d like my help to find them, again please contact me.