Breaking the complex: road map for effective cooperation
Cooperation and interaction within the framework of the network structure rarely leads to the achievement of stated ambitious goals. That's what it takes to make them work.
Hello, Habr! I present to your attention the translation of article Cutting Through the Complexity: A Roadmap for Effective Collaboration .
Cooperation is attractive in its concept, but difficult in practice. Although there are large online resources to support joint efforts, for example Community Tool Box, Intersector Project and NewNetworkLeader.org, the fact remains: we, people, just do not do "we-work" very well. And yet, the majority has changed their mind, and recognizes that to solve the complex social and environmental problems that we face, we need to learn the interaction between organizations, sectors, networks and interactions, taking into account our differences in views and approaches. Effective cooperation should become a reality, and not just an aspiration.
Most of us are familiar with the problems of cooperation: personal conflicts hinder; participants avoid difficult conversations; people are too formal and polite; we do not take the time to consciously build a trusting relationship; we do not understand leadership in the context of cooperation; We can not allocate resources to the main functions to coordinate efforts, so that cooperation really could flourish.
Based on many works, we have developed a road map that overcomes all these difficulties. We tested and improved this structure for many years in different areas, and we tend to apply it in the spirit of the statistics of George Box, who said: "All models are wrong. Some models are useful. " We found this road map useful and hope that it will be useful to others too.
Five points of the roadmap for effective cooperation
Although the reason for cooperation and who participates in cooperation can be very different in each case, the very process of cooperation is remarkably amenable to a general description. The beginning and maintenance of effective cooperation and joint efforts requires that we pay constant attention to five points:
specification of the goal;
attracting the right people;
cultivation of trust;
coordination of current actions;
cooperation with a view to systemic impact.
These points help us to orient ourselves in the personal, political, cultural and organizational dynamics inherent in joint efforts. These items can never be fulfilled completely, and they are not strictly linear. They inevitably get hung up on each other and require revision in the framework of the joint efforts.
Although it is impossible to know exactly what will happen until people actually end up in the same room together, the goal of the road map is to outline the "conscious" aspect of the joint process - that aspect that can be largely planned and reached a solution. Below we explain why each of these points is important, what tactics can be used to solve each problem and how to implement it in practice.
1. Specification of the goal
Although the goal of cooperation - its cause of existence - can change over time, the initial choice of the priority goal is important in order to bring people together. As Simon Sinek said in his famous speech at the TED conference, "start with the question why".
The goal should be ambitious enough to inspire, clear enough to identify the right participants and specific enough to focus the process of cooperation. Cooperation can be limited to a problem, geography, population, result or combination of the foregoing. For example, the priority objective of the RE-AMP network is to "reduce pollution from global warming by 80 percent by 2050 in eight states of the Midwest." The ultimate goal of the California Summer Matters Network is to "increase and improve summer learning opportunities for all children and young people throughout the state".
Clarifying the goal also leads to a meaningful understanding of the problem. Albert Einstein said well that if he had an hour to save the world, he would have spent the first 55 minutes on understanding the problem, and the remaining 5 minutes to solve it. This process is what the design community calls "sensemaking - making sense."
The creation of meaning involves determining the prospects, developing a common understanding of the actors and organizations involved, and understanding external trends and forces. It also implies understanding the importance of the local context, the impact of the history of the place or system, the definition of political and energy dynamics, and the statement of reasonable assumptions.
Thanks to this system research, participants become aware of their differences, and also learn about the perspectives that unite them, and about their common values. This becomes the basis on which participants can begin to act and ultimately solve the most difficult problems, problems for which they do not have agreement.
"The scarce resource is not oil, metals, clean air, capital, labor or technology," said Donela Meadows, a systems theorist once. "It's us, ready to listen to each other and learn from each other and seek the truth, and not try to be right."
The Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network (SCMSN) is an interregional intersectoral network structure that includes 19 organizations that work together to improve land management in a 50?000-acre California region between San Francisco and Monterey Bay. Participants include federal agencies, state and county departments, land trusts, non-profit organizations, the largest timber industry company in the region, research institutes, special districts and the largest indigenous tribal group.
Initially, the network was formed at the end of 201? when a number of large public and private landowners and managers realized that, although their organizations are ready to take care of the natural resources of the region, they do not work together on the scale that is necessary for the prosperity of nature and the person in this district. They realized that they need a joint approach, but they also realized that social fragmentation (the region has a history of tension and mistrust) will limit progress.
Prior to the first meeting in the framework of cooperation, we held personal talks with more than 20 potential participants. Since these conversations were confidential, the participants honestly shared their thoughts, fears and hopes for cooperation. As expected, we heard concerns about the "pitfalls" and learned that the participants had very different priorities in their daily work. However, despite significant disagreements, there was also a significant number of points of contact. Participants generally agreed that effective management requires a "mosaic approach" that takes into account land use diversity. They recognized the value of sustainable logging and were aware of threats from real estate development and climate change. It is important to note that everyone agreed that the region, as well as the work of each organization, will benefit from stronger ties and deeper relationships.
As part of the initial invitation to cooperation, we anonymously reflected what we learned and told to all groups, recognizing differences and emphasizing areas of agreement. As a result, participants were able to start developing applications for developing a priority goal a few hours before their first meeting, thereby clarifying the purpose of joint work and outlining the direction of joint work.
During the first two meetings, the participants also completed the historical analysis of the region, reviewed external trends and forces, considered possible scenarios and determined common values. This evaluation process helped this network structure to develop its priority objective in a memorandum of understanding, which all 19 members had ratified at the end of their third meeting.
2. Attracting the right people
Involving "right" people means uniting all those who are needed to solve the task. Although there is no single correct answer to the question of who to attract, we agree with Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Yanoff, the creators of the "Future Search" planning process, who write: "The more far-reaching your goal is, the higher your need to attract the most different players. " According to Weisbord and Yanoff, this implies attracting people from:
powers to act and ready to take responsibility for making decisions in the organization or community;
resources, such as contacts, time or money;
expert knowledge in the issues under consideration;
information on a topic that no one else has;
shares in the final results and those who will benefit from the results of cooperation.
We will add two more groups of "right" people. First, "right" people include those who have the ability to listen deeply and evaluate different perspectives. As Margaret Wheatley wrote: "Real listening always brings people together."
Secondly, the "right" people are those who remain involved in cooperation. In the course of any joint efforts, as a rule, some people will leave the group, while others will continue to participate in the development of cooperation. With effective cooperation, "right" people appear, take part and leave the group and this is normal and correct.
Involving the right people does not necessarily mean making a call to anyone who might be interested in this issue. A broad invitation to cooperation is often motivated by the fact that many are scared to identify the elected, when determining the broad range of participants that should be involved. Researchers from the Denver Center for Network Sciences at the University of Colorado found that cooperation that begins and develops through "smart inclusion" tends to demonstrate longer-term sustainability and effectiveness. Instead of interacting with all possible participants, thoughtful inclusion begins with the recruitment of a core group of dedicated individuals and organizations, one by one, with a refinement of the original goal and approach to solving the problem. As the initial group develops deep trust and solidarity, it offers new participants the necessary opportunities and resources and increases opportunities for cooperation.
3. Cultivation of trust
In our opinion, trust is the single most important component of effective cooperation. Trust relationships should not be "pleasant" - they must be trustworthy. The network of relationships that develops between the participants is an invisible structure that forces cooperation to work. Trust, however, has become something of a fashionable word. Everyone says that this is important, but the inability to develop a trusting relationship is something that causes cooperation to fail.
Google recently spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to figure out why some teams stumble and others take off-an initiative called Project Aristotle. They examined half a century of academic research and studied hundreds of teams, trying to find evidence of a general assumption that the composition of the team matters. "We watched 180 teams from all companies," said Abeer Duby, project manager, in an article in the New York Times Magazine about this initiative. "We had a lot of data, but nothing indicated that the combination of specific types of personality or skills, or backgrounds, made any difference. Part of the equation called "Who" does not seem to matter. "
Ultimately, Google found that high-performance teams have a high level of "psychological security", which is expressed in equal opportunities for speaking in team discussions, as well as a high degree of social sensitivity or in other words the ability of group members to read each other's social signals. The psychological security, defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, is "the general belief of team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk," and "a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for saying a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect, in which people feel comfortable being themselves. "
In other words, people work together most effectively when the relationship is strong and authentic. When they listen to others and do not hesitate to express their opinion. When they value a variety of thought and experience and can use the unique gifts that each person brings. When there is a high degree of mutual respect and, in a word, trust.
Trust is not the same as "sympathy" or "consent." To work together, people do not need to like each other. And they do not have to agree with each other on every issue. When we talk about trust, we mean trust in action - what we call "heart-to-heart talk." The type of trust relationship that allows you to overcome tension in difficult conversations, solve an emerging conflict, and find common ground and make cooperation a reality, and not just an aspiration. We also found that building trust can be much faster than many people think, if we are to strive for it purposefully.
For the support network for the Santa Cruz Mountains, we conducted a social network analysis just before the first meeting in March 2015 and every six months thereafter monitored and supported the growth of these relationships. These data helped us strategically to "twist" the links on the network in order to maximize the opportunities for teamwork.
Below are the network maps that illustrate this work. Each circle, or "node", is a member of the network. Colors indicate the type of organization they represent, and each of the lines connecting the nodes means a personal or professional link between the participating organizations. Initially, the network was fragmented, as seen on the first map, especially in terms of links between different types of organizations.
On the second map, you can see that after two meetings during which we deliberately devoted time to establishing a basic level of trust between previously uninvolved participants, the system became much more interconnected. Even if network participants have never met after September 201? the relationship has remained much more resilient than before the network was created. New and deeper relationships, stronger information flows and wider recognition of opportunities for cooperation between organizations have emerged.
4. Coordination of current actions
When people identify a common goal and create trust, they are much more likely to look for and monitor opportunities to support each other's work. This requires that participants share information about the work they are already doing, within the framework of cooperation. As a result, participants find opportunities to work together, quickly achieve results and avoid duplication of efforts.
Collaboration, even to a small extent, allows participants to strengthen their relationships with each other, creating a positive cycle of trust and action. Analysis of the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, a community of 60 communities across the United States working to create a higher resistance to forest fires, shows a strong statistical correlation between the depth of the relationship between the two participants and their perception of the opportunities for cooperation between them. In other words, as the relations develop, the participants find more opportunities for cooperation, which, in turn, strengthens their relations.
However, one altruistic commitment of participants is not enough to maintain cooperation. On the contrary, cooperation should also serve the personal and organizational goals of individual participants. Otherwise, they can not justify the time and effort necessary for full participation. The coincidence between personal goals and the general objectives of cooperation is what we call the intersection of personal interests and common interests, and finding the right balance between them is important.
To do this, participants at the initial stage of the formation of the team should be able to publicly announce their capabilities - what they can give in the framework of cooperation to support other participants and personal goals - the conditions under which they leave the project, this is necessary to make participation worth it. The more specifically this is formulated, the better participants will understand the conditions of interaction with each other. Examples of what participants can give include: links to funding sources or influential persons, access to a volunteer base or fleet, time and energy to participate in the work of other partners. Examples of what participants can get in return: the services of a professional writer, the potential or experience to support the project, the conference room for the meeting and other tangible results and opportunities.
Participants also need to express legal restrictions on their contribution. The absence of such restrictions, voiced by other participants, in the face of these restrictions, can be perceived as a failure to fulfill obligations or a failure of cooperation. Restrictions may include such issues as the time that participants can spend in the framework of cooperation, the provision of advice, and for management representatives there may be legal restrictions on their ability to participate in cooperation.
5. Cooperation with a view to providing systemic impact
In order for real changes in the system to take place, joint efforts should be aimed at eliminating the root causes of the problems, and not just mitigating the symptoms. To get rid of toothache it is necessary to cure the tooth, but we will never achieve long-term positive changes without paying attention to the root cause of the problem, for example, the need to teach young children to follow their teeth and regularly clean them.
To identify root causes, it is imperative to recognize and solve systemic and structural issues, such as racism, sexism and income inequality. As writes Unius Williams and Sarah Marker in his article "Bringing an objective view to collective impact": "Without close attention to sustainable inequality, our initiatives risk remaining ineffective and inappropriate improvements that can not be sustained." And, according to the authors of "Cooperation for Equality and Justice", "this requires that cooperation includes the principles of equality and justice and takes into account their influence in the distribution of power and resources, drawing up an agenda for social change and current commitments in the area of work in the field of equality and justice. "
One way to solve the root problems is to identify and influence the "points of influence" that contribute to the achievement of the priority objective of cooperation. Influence points are places in the system where, as Meadows said, "a small change in one aspect can produce great changes in everything." Within the framework of cooperation, points of influence can also represent opportunities for participants to exert greater influence, working together than they could render, working alone.
100Kin1? a community of more than 200 partners that supports STEM teachers, by 2021 they want to train 10?000 of the best STEM teachers, attracted hundreds of teachers to identify 100 problems that stand in the way of STEM qualitative learning for all comers and to assess the interrelationships between these problems. Through this process, 100Kin10 identified six main points of influence in achieving its goal: 1) raise government standards, 2) improve the quality of the curriculum; 3) expand financial support for STEM core colleges; 4) develop accountability systems that contribute to the creativity of the teacher; 5) increase the time available for professional development, and 6) increase the time available for teacher cooperation.
In addition to the comprehensive system comparison method, which applied 100Kin1? collaboration can determine influence points during network management trainings or through a design-oriented approach that allows you to quickly move from an idea to prototyping. The cooperation should then provide the participants with the opportunity to act, for example, within the framework of a project team focused on specific objectives. Participants are more willing to participate when they feel that their efforts can have an effect, and their priorities coincide with the work of the team.
Combine everything together
In addition to the roadmap, effective cooperation also requires certain management, structure, coordination and funding to achieve its objectives
Management: since joint activities are the basis of cooperation and network structures, formal management procedures can help participants make timely decisions, invite new members, plan and successfully hold meetings, and integrate a set of interactive collaboration tools. The goal of good governance "is not to tell the members what to do, but so that they can do what they want to do," writes Madeleine Taylor, Peter Plastric and John Cleveland in his article "Joining the Change of the World."
Structures. From our point of view, the network is a structure that provides interaction. The correct network structure allows cooperation to effectively direct the creative impulses of its participants. But too many structural factors suffocate the individual initiative, and also leads to an increase in the number of rules and procedures. According to Francis Butterfoss, author of coalitions and partnerships in public health, "we need to adopt a simple structure that will achieve the goals of cooperation."
Below are examples of basic network structures within which cooperation can be implemented:
Learning Network Structures - Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network
Network structures aimed at performing functions - RE-AMP Network
Intermixed network structures: learning and performing functions - California Summer Matters Network
Networks consisting of network structures - Network for Landscape Conservation
Coordination. Cooperation can not achieve ambitious goals only through self-organization. Some kind of coordination is needed to mobilize people and resources to solve complex problems. Those who perform this role are called system leaders, system entrepreneurs, network leaders, network entrepreneurs, strategic organizers and attendants. Regardless of how they are called, their primary role is to coordinate.
The role of the coordinator or group of coordinators is to constantly feel and respond to the emerging needs of cooperation as it develops. They work to help participants clarify the purpose and values that unite them, determine who else needs to be involved, cultivate trust, find opportunities for mutual benefit and step up joint actions to achieve common goals. Coordinators do not seek attention. Instead, they tend to be motivated in their activities by the goal of cooperation and their ability to help others reach their potential.
We considered it useful to consider coordination as a set of duties that can be divided into three parts:
Lawn in front of the house: external communications, public relations and outreach, as well as resources.
In the house: building of connections, process design, organization of meetings, conflict management, search and attraction of new members.
Garden in the yard: logistical preparation for meetings, project tracking, evaluation of results, financial planning and technical support
Financing: Cooperation requires the provision of resources, in particular finance. As the authors of the recent Harvard Business Review article "Audacious Philanthropy /Daring Philanthropy" write: "Cooperation of any type can be complex and expensive, so few philanthropists meaningfully support or participate in it, although most of them are disappointed by the inefficiency of efforts with meaningless results in the end." However, foundations and philanthropists play an important, unique role in supporting cooperation and networking structures.
The main task of sponsors is to support cooperation without limiting or controlling this cooperation. Financiers should be prepared to enable participants to determine the purpose and direction of cooperation, or they risk strangling the very energy that fuels cooperation.
Fund "S. D. Bechtel Jr. "found that he can effectively support cooperation and network structures with the aim of implementing new solutions, adhering to the following principles:
ensuring the flexibility of the objectives and results of cooperation;
consideration of the development of trust as one of the results of joint work;
"Creating opportunities" for other sponsors wishing to support a joint project by investing in the operational potential of the network;
support specific joint activities, such as meetings, by facilitating organizational and coordination issues;
consider cooperation and participation in network structures as training
be ready to adapt its support to changing conditions, as cooperation over time changes.
The decisive moment is
The social philosopher Tom Atley wrote what is a good summary for what is happening on the planet right now: "Everything is getting better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster, simultaneously." If he is right, and we think that it is, then we urgently need to consider two questions: how can we strengthen everything that is getting better and better? And how can we minimize damage from things that get worse and worse?
We believe that the answer to both questions is to improve effective cooperation, that is, in meaningful attempts to work together for the common good - between disparate organizations, sectors and networks. From our point of view, it is no exaggeration to say that our ability to work effectively together with all our differences is the last great hope for humanity.
David Ehrlichmann, David Sawyer and Matthew Spence are partners of Converge, a group of strategists and designers committed to social and environmental impact through cooperation and networking structures. In their work with Converge, they helped to establish intersectoral cooperation and networking on issues such as economic mobility, environmental protection, human rights and health care reform.
Earlikhman was previously the network coordinator of the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network and the New Leadership Network of the James Irwin Foundation, as well as a consultant at the Monitor Institute. He is a co-author with Sawyer and Jane Wei-Skirner of previous articles in the Stanford Social Innovation Survey, including "The Most Powerful Leaders That You've Never Heard" and "The Tactics of Trust."
Sawyer is also president of Context, a consulting firm with practical directions in strategy, leadership and culture. Previously, he led the leadership and service programs at Berea College, receiving the "Servant Leader" award from the National Youth Leadership Council, helped launch the American program Americorps and became the first executive director of Social Venture Partners Portland.
Spence is also the president of Spence & Company, where he conducts training, professionals in a wide variety of industries, how to organize complex information for more effective communication. He previously served as research director for Amana-Key, one of the leading executives in Brazil, for five years and recently led the joint efforts of Fortune 100 technology companies and their suppliers to improve the practice of sustainable supply chain management.
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