Lesson 1: An Introduction to Collab and the Course

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Goals for this Lesson

  • Gain an understanding of key terms used in Collab
  • Explore power dynamics and how they show up in your organization through understanding and using the Power Matrix framework

Learning Activities

    1. Read Collab Instructional pages 3-25, 40, 50 & 59. Familiarize yourself with the location of the Collab Cards. You will be referring back to this portion of the Collab Instructional often
    2. Watch the Lesson 1 training video (below).
    3. Review all the supplemental materials (below). We’ve included these in each lesson to enhance your learning.
    4. Watch the free webinar on transforming conflict and review the Organizational Power Matrix on pages 14 and 143 in the Instructional.
    5. Reflect and respond to the prompts in this lesson’s forum below.

Training Video

*Click the full screen arrows on the bottom right corner of the video to enter full screen. 

Materials

Tips and Tricks

  • Download the Instructional so that all the links will work! (They don’t work when you’re viewing it in a web page.)
  • The key images we include in each lesson will remain powerful tools that you’ll want to keep referring back to. Print each one out and put it in a folder for reference or hang it up by your desk to help you stay on track.

Forums

Respond to the following prompts:

What does it mean to you to be on a democratic team with shared leadership? What else came up in this lesson that really hit home for you?

**Do you have some thoughts about how we can improve the course?  Please take a few minutes to give us feedback here!

37 Comments

  1. Jan

    For me, I’m taking all this in through the lens of my participation with a globally distributed non-profit in which I work with great people and we don’t yet have an equally great organization, despite successes in the area of Governance (our governing structure is Holacracy), Purpose, and a high level of Individual Development. I can’t begin to unpack some of the other conversations but it seems clear to me that we have conflated some aspects of Strategy, Business Model and Operations. I sense that simply making them distinct, clarifying their outcomes, and devoting appropriately balanced time to each conversation would make a huge difference.

    After a quick review of the meeting component cards, it seems that the Collab approach shares aspects of Holacracy. I anticipate resistance to giving time and attention to what might be seen as a competing model, given that we have invested so much into Holacracy, the Holacracy constitution and learning how to use the Holacracy models in both Governance and Tactical meetings.

    So questions to ponder for me:
    * How might we introduce useful tools and processes into our organization without seeming to devalue Holacracy?
    * How might we discern what concepts fit well with Holacracy so that our people might experiment with them within our current structure?
    * Might it be useful to start to operate on a small scale, within teams (such as the CoP we’ve formed around taking the CLCP course) to start to practice these new approaches?
    * How might we then scale our successes to address challenges in the group as a whole? I wonder if a recent suggestion that we need an expert coach to help us analyze and grow our capacities (that was surfaced and then lost when there didn’t seem to be a coaching resource we might investigate?
    * Am I correct in identifying this example as a Strategy conversation that we lacked the skill to complete or act on?
    * It’s exciting to start to APPLY the concepts I’ve learning in my FIRST DAY with this material, to realize that I do have some insight that I can combine with new language and concepts to help sort out our challenges to creating the kind of next-stage organization we want to proudly display as a model for others.

    Reply
    • Jan

      QUESTIONS for COLLAB: The terms scope and supra-scope as you use them are not clear to me. Can you explain?

      Reply
      • Jan

        To complete a sentence above that I left unfinished: I wonder if a recent suggestion that we need an expert coach to help us analyze and grow our capacities (that was surfaced and then lost when there didn’t seem to be a coaching resource we might investigate) just might be a cry for outside help that we should heed?

        Reply
        • Cecile Green

          I think you might be right on this front! In practice I’ve found that tensions rarely mislead, though they may point away from where you currently are, which can be disconcerting.

          Reply
      • Cecile Green

        Hello again Jan! You’ll find a more detailed description and presentation on Scope and Super/Sub-Scopes in Lesson 6, but in short, Scope = a boundary of work that confers autonomy and accountability. The suprascope is the next larger scope of work from where you are deliveriing work and the subscope is the next smaller scope of work from where you are delivering work. They are relative terms.

        Reply
    • Cecile Green

      Hello and Welcome Jan! Great to have you in the course and thanks for your detailed post. First, I love that you are coming to this course with a background in Holacracy! I dove deeply into Holacracy and am a certified instructor and even joined Holacracy One as a partner for a time until I realized that there were key areas of the organization where distributed power was not welcome, namely the Interpersonal, but also Purpose, Business Model, Strategy and Personal Development. With these conversational aspects forcefully excluded from fair conversation, tensions did indeed build up and have no equitable place to be processed. Thus I began my further research into other organizational methodologies and have since synthesized a number of other effective collaborative methodologies (for example: Open Book Management, Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry, and others) into the streamlined processes that you see in Collab.

      While there is a lot to ‘unpack’ as you put it, I concur with your statement that making distinctions and giving time to other kinds of tensions besides Governance and Operations will enable your team to manifest its potential. So in answer to your first question, I suggest that you consider Collab a means of transcending and including Holacracy, thus making use of the investment you have made in learning and integrating Holacracy while transcending its limitations. And to dig into the rest of your questions in greater detail:

      * How might we introduce useful tools and processes into our organization without seeming to devalue Holacracy?

      The Standard Meeting Practice (SMP) includes both tactical and governance meeting tensions. It’s a more natural, smooth and easy way of dealing with both types of tensions. The SMP also allows for and encourages other types of tensions, which isn’t a devaluation of Holacracy, but an enabling of a whole person approach to being a part of an organization.

      * How might we discern what concepts fit well with Holacracy so that our people might experiment with them within our current structure?

      I hope I’ve answered that one above, but please do bring up specific questions/instances during the CLCP 1 calls and on the forums.

      * Might it be useful to start to operate on a small scale, within teams (such as the CoP we’ve formed around taking the CLCP course) to start to practice these new approaches?

      Yes, I do recommend a pilot team. But it is catalytic to use real life tensions rather than imagined ones, so a team that’s really doing work together is a much more effective place to practice and experiment.

      * How might we then scale our successes to address challenges in the group as a whole? I wonder if a recent suggestion that we need an expert coach to help us analyze and grow our capacities (that was surfaced and then lost when there didn’t seem to be a coaching resource we might investigate?

      I’m not sure I fully understand your question, so feel free to clarify, but I believe you will find Collab’s structure and processes will enable you and your team to analyze your own challenges and create incremental and unique solutions that grow your capacities individually and collectively.

      * Am I correct in identifying this example as a Strategy conversation that we lacked the skill to complete or act on?

      Quite possibly, I would need a little more detail.

      * It’s exciting to start to APPLY the concepts I’ve learning in my FIRST DAY with this material, to realize that I do have some insight that I can combine with new language and concepts to help sort out our challenges to creating the kind of next-stage organization we want to proudly display as a model for others.

      Whahoooo! exactly! Looking forward to our time together!

      Cecile

      Reply
  2. Kristen

    To me, a democratic team with shared leadership means that space is made for all voices and perspectives to be heard and that power, influence and responsibility are shared. From my own experience, even in democratic teams where shared leadership is the explicit intention, not everyone steps into leadership and, indeed, at times they may abdicate power and responsibility in ways that places the burden unfairly on others. I see this as a shadow of collaboration and shared leadership: showing up for the conversation, having one’s voice heard, and then not actually participating in the work.

    A lot resonated for me, particularly the idea that without a good processes, good intentions and people don’t necessarily lead to good organizations. In my own experience leading teams, I can see where grants of autonomous power that are not practiced well often lead to dysfunction and poor outcomes. It’s hard to keep the ship afloat when it needs repair, the (autonomous) maintenance supervisor consistently fails to report to work, and there are no accountability measures or agreements in place on what to do when this happens. It places the organization in a precarious position where one person has the power to single-handedly sink the ship. The Power Matrix combined with the Seven Conversation strikes me as a very useful tool to diagnose and address issues like this.

    Reply
    • Cecile Green

      Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I especially appreciate the examples of shared power gone awry! You’ve aptly described the difficulty of sharing authority/accountability when the systems for dealing with failed accountability are not clear and strong. Besides having the tools to diagnose such issues, Collab also provides you with the clear processes to avoid and eliminate such dysfunctions which I hope you are getting exposed to through the rest of the course and look forward to hearing about your experience and questions on an upcoming live call. Welcome to the course!

      Reply
  3. Terry

    Being on a team with democratic leadership means the best solution has a better chance of emerging because more perspectives can be heard. However, what I have learned from dance training is creativity flows through learned technique and foundational training. If you don’t learn technique and safe ways to move your body through proper alignment, damage can be done to the body more easily. You can use that metaphor in other situations also in that if you don’t have techniques, boundaries, and processes that keep people safe, democratic leadership will not be optimized either.

    Reply
    • Fearn

      Hi collabers. Just watched the conflict resolution video and am left wondering what the actual format is? How does it compare to NVC. It seemed like there was a lot of setting important context with power matrix and the why’s of conflict management but im not sure how.
      Perhaps it is coming up later? thanks!

      Reply
      • Charlotte Root

        Hi Fearn, thanks for asking! The format for resolving interpersonal conflicts is similar to NVC, as we describe our position as clearly as we can to the other person while the other person listens and reflects back to us. However, compassionate facilitation is a crucial part of the interpersonal process in Collab, so there are big differences from NVC as well. We don’t get into the details of our interpersonal processes in Collab 101, it’s quite a complex and advanced subject, so we get more deeply into Interpersonal and Personal Development in the CLCP Level II. We are also available to schedule Interpersonal conflict resolution training in groups or one-on-one. Email training@roundskysolutions.com to learn more!

        Reply
    • Charlotte Root

      This is a beautiful metaphor for the way we teach Collab to groups Terry! We also believe that although our goal is horizontal leadership, we can’t achieve this goal without a shared understanding of the steps we take (and how these steps are parts of practices that lay the foundation for longer term and richer democratic control), the people that are responsible for (and that we trust to) take us through the steps, and how those steps support our overall goals and practices. We believe that shared leadership is a practice because it can’t just happen in the moment – it has to have longer term support from our practices and our shared trust of the process.

      Reply
    • Cecile Green

      Hi Terry! Thanks for sharing your insight about dance and the importance of foundational technique/process! The metaphor is quite appropriate:) Welcome to the course.

      Reply
  4. Mindy

    A democratic team implies equal voice in the processes and the direction, where no one voice is allowed to counteract the group decision. It also means that significant efforts should be made to provide the proper structure and environment for meetings that allow for a safe space and voice opinions and freely engage in discussion. Alternative voices are meet with empathy rather than dismissed.

    Reply
    • Charlotte Root

      Absolutely Mindy, this is a great summation of some of our goals. It’s also incredibly important to work towards building trust within the group both for the rest of the group and for the process. The more team members can trust in each other and the process, the better communication and understanding can exist, and true collaboration can make headway. I do want to point out, however, that we take some important steps to make sure that one person’s voice can be heard above the crowd. We do this for some important reasons: our goal is to make sure that each person knows that when they have an issue or an opportunity, they have a clear way forward from their brain to bringing it to the team to being able to take action to move this idea or issue forward. Each person’s experience, ideas, and pain points are invaluable and are crucial points of leverage for the organization as a whole. Reach out if you’d like to discuss this more!

      Reply
  5. Maria

    Being on a team with democratic leadership means being able to have a deep felt influence to shape how your team works and where it decides to go. Growing up, I have felt a strong generative power dynamic with my siblings and parents and have very life-giving rewarding relationships with them. So I have been searching for a similar experience in my internships and jobs. I think that is partly why I decided to work for a worker co-op organization, because the structure of the organization seems to naturally lend itself to democratic leadership. So I hope to be able to build more of that structure with this collaborative leadership approach as our organization grows.

    In terms of this lesson, I really liked the idea of having a shared language with the 7 conversations and building better processes over time. So I am really looking forward to trying out the tailored processes for each discussion.

    Reply
    • Charlotte Root

      It’s exciting to hear that you and your family had such a generative culture Maria! It’s so wonderful that you’ve decided to continue to pursue that kind of relationship with others in your career. I, too, relish the knowledge that I am an equal contributor to others in terms of work and decision-making 🙂 and I look forward to this model of involvement and equality growing.

      The cool thing I think you’ll find as you learn about the Collab model is that it replaces the representative democracy approach with a networked approach by creating scopes of decision-making based on work; with the basic idea being that the person who does the work gets to make decisions about how that work gets done within the boundaries of our shared vision, mission, and values; and that getting the people doing shared work together to talk about where they’re at and what’s standing in their way of doing their best work will yield the most agile, creative teams; and that having shared and clear communication and decision-making practices will allow for anyone from any background to engage in the conversation in a generative way. Let me know what you think, I mean how does that sound for your organization? Is that something your organization could integrate and benefit from?

      I’m thrilled to have you with us Maria! Keep up the awesome work!

      Reply
  6. Anna

    Being part of a democratic team with shared leadership has allowed each team member to offer expertise, opinions, facts, and other helpful tidbits to a huge variety of conversations. The whole is able to educate the subject, which allows us to make better decisions than are often made in a top-down organization – decisions that everyone buys into and wants to work toward and support.

    I think being open to a democratic and shared system also allows for us to know one another better on a personal level, not separating our work selves from our personal selves, but better being able to combine the personalities and traits and thus having better understanding in all of our conversations. It becomes not just about getting work done or meeting our mission, but about creating a healthy space for all team members to be their best and most true selves.

    The power matrix allowed me to see power in a different way than before, and although I’m still a little confused at how to define each type of power (it just takes me awhile), I’m excited to use the matrix and conversation types to better understand conflict and collaboration.

    Reply
    • Charlotte Root

      Wow, thanks for sharing that experience with us all Anna! It sounds like your team is taking steps to implement the kind of generative practices we teach here in the Collab methodologies. It’s beautiful to hear the way you describe how it’s effected the brilliance of the whole and reflected those changes into individuals, who then again bring that back to the whole, and on and on. Thus is the regenerative power of resiliency based on shared knowledge and respect. Grokking. Love. Awesome work!!!

      The power matrix is indeed a powerful tool. And in the real world, all the power types are pretty well conflated. But if you bring this question to a live call, I bet we could start a rich discussion about examples of the 4 types in our experiences. The next live call is this Wednesday at 7 pm est.

      Look forward to hearing more about your experience of Collab as you proceed through 101! And welcome to the community!

      Reply
  7. Cabot

    I have little to no actual experience with this in an explicit way, but I think to be on a democratic team with shared leadership is to be among peers who are aware of process. I think awareness of self is important to being a peer in this way, and I would guess that willingness to be changed might be essential. Creating safety seems important, so people can allow themselves to be vulnerable.
    This inner work is something we don’t talk about much in most organizations. It isn’t covered in sociocracy to any significant extent.
    I can see how explicit, tested and well-designed processes could help on these fronts. Ideally, i think deep inner individual work will help make all this more successful.

    Reply
    • Cecile Green

      Hello Cabot! Such an important point you make and indeed the interior quadrants can be easily overlooked in efforts to improve organizations which is why Collab specifically names ‘personal development’ as one of the foundational conversations all organizations already have, and in general could be doing better at holding. I think you’ll enjoy listening to Lesson 2 on Personal Development and I look forward to hearing further thoughts from you.

      All the best,

      Cecile

      Reply
    • Anne S

      this past March, I watched Unbought and Unbossed the documentary of Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 run for the US presidency.. Octavia Butler was interviewed. She said (I paraphrase) ‘If you don’t use your power, someone else will.’ That remark got me to this course. For 30 years, I have been a target of IT-based stalking and harassment constructed around the perpetrators’ deniability. Since i am still here, I must have used implicit power with some effectiveness. The 3 other vectors do not seem reliably accessible. I continue to believe that democracy’s institutions can accommodate change and maintain humane values..

      Reply
      • Rebecca Fisher McGinty

        Hi Anne,
        It’s great to have you in the course. Thanks for sharing that quote. I’m a big fan of Octavia Butler’s work myself and that is just so true. And, I think it takes knowing how to tap into your own power! I’m glad to see you’ve tapped into yours. I agree that a true democracy can create some amazing and needed change.

        Reply
  8. Jeanette

    One more question! Where is the free webinar on transforming conflict?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Fisher McGinty

      Hi Jeanette,
      Thank you for your thoughtful responses! It is interesting how our culture tends to disassociate the product with the process that created it. A great place to start with understanding the Power Matrix framework through the webinar here. Come to the next live call with your insights, questions, and thoughts to have a deeper discussion about exploring power dynamics within out organizations (and beyond).

      Reply
  9. Jeanette

    Do you have suggestions for how to go about doing this, “Explore power dynamics and how they show up in your organization through understanding and using the Power Matrix framework.” I can see this being a useful exercise, but I’m not sure how to get started.

    Reply
  10. Jeanette

    Being on a democratic team with shared leadership means that everyone has value, and that everyone values the work.

    I’m looking forward to thinking more about power, and how it leads to function and disfunction. I’m interesting in finding out more about generative power – what it is and what it looks like, and how to foster it.

    I was just in a leadership training where we were tasked with developing an idea, but rather than focusing on the idea, we were asked to focus on the process. This made the whole experience more fun and more productive. So I want to learn a lot more about that. I also notices that all of the groups, in the end, focused more on the product that the process, which I thought was really interesting. Perhaps our instructions weren’t very clear, but there was also a very strong pull to work on generating the content.

    Reply
  11. cecilemgreen

    Hello All! I am blessed to work on an amazing democratic/participatory team here at Round Sky Solutions! And for me it means that I am able to work with trust and support with my colleagues day in and day out. Sure tensions arise, but those tensions drive creativity and collaboration. It also means for me as a founder that I am held in a container that allows our collective work to emerge without getting stuck in the common dilemma of founder fusion. What a relief!

    Reply
    • Jeanette

      Tension drives creativity and collaboration – yes! I so feel that way. When tension arrises it feels like opportunity to me, something is going on that we should learn about, and the unpacking of that tension can lead to so much growth and connection on the team.
      Thanks for this example of how “waste” = food

      Reply
  12. Noemi

    One question that comes up for me is when we are working with groups that have a long history of NON-democratic and empowered functioning, with lots of toxicities built up, where can we begin to shift the culture? How can we provide hope that participation will lead to improvement and not just conflict and drama?

    Reply
    • cecilemgreen

      Hey Noemi! I appreciate your question! The place I recommend beginning is with the meeting practices of the organization, and in particular, I suggest picking one pilot team. That pilot team is enlisted through their willingness to try an experiment with Collab’s Standard Meeting Practice to see if it can lead to improvement and not just more conflict and drama. I suggest asking for a 6 month commitment. From there using the Standard Meeting Practice demonstrates in action with real tensions just how improvement occurs incrementally by leveraging the existing conflict and drama to create better solutions. The proof really needs to be in their experience which they can then share with their colleagues, leading to more participation.

      Reply
  13. Charlotte Root

    Hi everyone. I love this prompt! For me, being part of a democratic team and learning these practices has totally changed my perception of myself in relationship with my life (in terms of what’s possible and what I am responsible for and how to engage with my life agentically), in relationship with others, and my perspective on the world and my place in it. It’s so empowering to be a member of a team in which we all take responsibility for the management of and engagement with our mutual direction and our vision for our impact. The biggest difference I see here is the sense of ownership/leadership we all have, and what that means to us. Not only does leadership mean holding care and interest in movement forward, it also means caring for ourselves and each other adequately so that we can continue to grow within ourselves and in our relationships.

    Reply
    • Jeanette

      I like these ideas about how being on a democratic team leads to more personal growth. I also like the idea that we all take responsibility for management, direction, engagement, and vision. That sounds like everyone is invested and committed.

      Reply
  14. Linda

    I am gradually getting up to speed, and deeply appreciating the thought work that went into pulling together so many diverse ideas. Cecile, you mention in the manual that the academic versions of your work are available on the website. Can ya’ll point me in the right menu direction to find them? Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Rebecca Fisher McGinty

    Hi Josephine, thanks for that feedback! In the mean time, you can increase the video speed with the setting icon on the bottom right hand corner.

    Reply
  16. Rebecca Fisher McGinty

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your comment. I’d love to know if you have any questions right now about the concepts. One of the things we’ve discovered through our research is that the territory of power is not well understood in our culture.

    Every domain of research and study has to go through the process of creating a vocabulary to explain the depths of what it’s attempting to discover. So for example, in medicine there is a whole vocabulary that is specific and explains features of our physiology that is ‘jargon’ to an individual who is not in the field of medicine. The same is true of this domain of human social power. As we figure out language around collaborative leadership, we’re excited to evolve that language with you. We’d love to hear specifics from you via this forum or through email.

    With that, please share any questions or let us know what is confusing here in the forum. And, if you have specific feedback about the course, presentations, etc always feel free to write to us at support@roundskysolutions.com

    I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation.

    Reply

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