When does collaboration begin?

Calls to Twyfords for specialist advice on collaboration come from a variety of places and spaces on the collaborative journey.

Some people call because they have been told that they have to collaborate to get funding, others call because their work has hit a rough spot of conflict, frustration or slowed progress, and others call because they can see those rough spots ahead and would like a better way to go about working together.

The Collins English dictionary defines ‘beginning’ as to start something and ‘a beginning’ as the first part or earliest stage of something.

The five loops of the Power of Co reflect that people do come to collaboration at different places. The Power of Co is an iterative framework that supports people to identify where they are at in the journey and loop back if they need to in order to move forward.

The first three loops are the foundational steps for ensuring the momentum of a collaborative process towards solutions that stick. We sometimes refer to them as preconditions. Doing the work to check off these three stages before co-creating solutions delivers dividends to a smoother and solution-generating process.

Yet it is a common experience to be working with clients who began their work at loop 4 of solution making. This can quickly lead to polarization, frustration and conflict. In working with these clients to understand what is going on, we have found that they appreciate being able to place their experience within a big picture of what is going on.

The challenges they are experiencing are not insurmountable and can be addressed with iteration with the first three loops.

This means you can ‘begin’ again and again, each time deepening the connections between stakeholders and raising the odds of co-creating innovative solutions. Over time there is a build of trust and relationships and willingness for shared accountability.

The Power of Co reminds us that there is no magic beginning point; rather there are iterations to travel as people become more willing to collaborate. The following could be described as indicators of people’s willingness. How do you rate yourself on these?

When I collaborate I am willing to:

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