Category Archives: Tool Box

My Basketball Coach

I have always been tall and husky.  I was my current height, 6 foot 7 inches, in my freshman year of high school, and I was a basketball player and I was pretty good at that game. Back then a guy my size was automatically assigned the center position.  And that’s where my coach put me – in the center of the action. Today most guards in the pros are taller than I am.

I was a good passer and had a half decent hook shot and turn around jumper, but I felt out of sorts as the team’s center. I really wanted to play the forward position. I dribbled rather well for a big guy and I could shoot well from a distance.  In fact, I could hit from three-point range before there was a three-point rule. I knew I could score more and pass even better as a forward, but I said nothing.

Continue reading My Basketball Coach

Collaborating to Understand Collaboration; A New Tool

I imagine the majority of us value collaboration. We believe that doing it increases impact, fosters innovation, and is especially called for when it comes to effecting large-scale systemic change (or transformational change). Many say collaboration is more efficient than disconnected social change or social service efforts. The expectations of many funders are that grant requests must include collaboration. It’s a norm we just accept.

Collective Impact is how we describe large-scale collaboration that aspires to resolve intractable problems like poverty, climate change, family violence, obesity and so on. It makes sense to view working together on such problems as requiring such a collaborative framework.

agree-disagree tool image

As much as we see collaboration as a desired, if not necessary community-change norm, people experience collaboration differently, have varied perspectives on what it is, what its benefits are, how successful it actually is, and how it can go wrong. While we share a common appreciation for collaboration, we have feelings and we make judgements about collaboration that may not shared with one another. In other words, each of us carries biases about collaboration to the collaborative table that are often kept hidden from one another for a variety of reasons.

I see these unshared perspectives as important undercurrents that should be brought to the surface and discussed. Over the years, I have been a member of more collaborations than I can count. I cannot recall having an in depth conversation with my colleagues about our respective views and experiences on collaboration. What we did do more times than not was identify guiding principles that we inserted into our terms of reference, but I typically found this effort to be more task-focused than being grounded in generative conversations about collaboration.

Collaboration is a personal endeavour as much as it is a professional one, and I am offering the attached tool as one way for a group to get at what individuals think and believe about collaboration and help them dialogue about their differences and then work to identify a shared understanding of what collaboration might offer them if they commit to working that way. I suggest such conversation is a necessary precursor to identifying guiding principles as well as the process design of collaborating together.

The tool is based on an Agree-Disagree Exercise. Moving through the steps outlined in its instructions can enhance the possibility of identifying a group’s own case for collaborating to resolve a significant community problem.  As is the case for all tools and exercises, this tool requires authentic participation by members of a collaborative group to have optimal value. It also requires sufficient time to undertake this engagement.

Take a look at this tool. Adapt it to accommodate your own context and group dynamics if that will help you. Once you have identified your own “case” for collaborating you can move on to the next challenge, which is how to make your case come alive in your work. That stage of your work may require another tool; I am going to think about that.

Agree-Disagree Exercises can be applied to more than collaboration. As you will see, it offers a framework that can be used to discuss Collective Impact, Community Engagement, Innovation, and on.

DOWN LOAD THE TOOL

Let me know what you think. I am also on the prowl to improve!

About Collective Impact: Types of Problems, Degrees of Change, Learning Loops, and Methods of Thinking

Collective Impact is multi-sector approach to large-scale collaboration that is authentically inclusive of citizens in its development and implementation – in particular citizens who have life-experience with the big problems or issues being addressed, such as poverty, climate change, family violence, and so many more.

Collective Impact is not an approach aimed at creating program changes among a few agencies or undertaking collaboration in order to compete with other community initiatives. Rather, it tends to be focused on efforts to leverage talents, existing services, innovations, and resources in order to effect significant changes to policies and systems and where needed, significant programmatic changes. Such changes might occur within governments or government-run institutions, within education and health institutions, within business, or within service providers.

At recent sessions and workshops I held in Vancouver (Community Change Institute) and in Edmonton (Upside Down Thinking) , I shared a perspective on three types of problems identified by Brenda Zimmerman and how they connect to three types of change, three types of learning, and various types of thinking required in addressing each type of problem. My intent is to help our collective thinking about significant problems/issues facing our communities.

Simple problems are those we can fix easily and are sometimes called kaizen (the Japanese word for “continuous improvement”). Solutions to these kinds of problems are akin to tweaking a recipe or adjusting a process to improve quality or reliability of performance. Typically such changes are incremental. Continue reading About Collective Impact: Types of Problems, Degrees of Change, Learning Loops, and Methods of Thinking

Wiki Sites are Great Engagement Tools

Collective Impact is a long-play on community change. Large scale community change takes time and over the life of a Collective Impact initiative, there will be many documents and lists produced and people will come and go as well. Keeping track of the important reports and data can be time-consuming. And imagine coming into the work a year or so in. How would you get up to speed?

A “wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick.” They are relatively easy to build and use and can be used for a project or as a website.  There are many options for building a wiki site. The tool I am showcasing is  Google Sites, which is free to use and allows for integration with Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Groups.

Features of a wiki site include:

• Collaboration among users no matter where they are located. For example, you can edit documents collaboratively and users can be notified whenever a document is updated.

• Creating or co—creating a Common Calendar that can be embedded in the wiki site.

• Creating and managing a Clearing House of documents, images and other files by theme or topic area that users can view or download. This allows you to have all pertinent documents stored in one place, which provides a historical view of your initiative as well as provides newcomers to your initiative an efficient way to be oriented.

• Create sign up forms for registrations that are automatically displayed as well on the site.

• Create a survey that automatically populates the results of on the wiki site.

• Link to or embed a Google Group to foster discussion on the site among participants.

• Create static webpages and navigation to other wiki pages.

• Display a plan as well as a link to it for downloading.

• Widgets can be used to automatically display recent news that users should know about.

This tool download goes deeper into the pros and cons of a wiki platform and includes some examples of wiki sites I have built for collaborative groups.

SCALES FOR EVALUATING ENGAGEMENT SATISFACTION

This tool is one I developed for a quick session I taught at Tamarack’s recent learning gathering in Vancouver, Community Engagement: The Next Generation. It provides an overview on the NetPromoter score, Likert Scales, the Semantic Differential Scale and Visual scales for collecting and measuring feedback from those you are engaged with.

CLICK HERE FOR THE PDF