Collaborative Organization PDF Print E-mail

June 2008 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter

Collaborative organization


Collaborative Organization | Gary Rush Facilitation

Let’s look at the basis of “how to” create a Collaborative Organization. I understand that this is an ambitious concept. Is it doable? Absolutely. It takes commitment, time, and collaboration.




First, it is important to understand what a “Collaborative Organization” looks like. A Collaborative Organization is one that embraces collaboration – working together. It recognizes that working together is more successful than working as individuals. It values inclusion over exclusion. It recognizes that people’s differences make the organization more interesting and richer.


Characteristics are…


With a Collaborative Organization, we see the following positive behaviors:


  • Plans, requirements, decisions, directions, etc. are developed through facilitated workshops.
  • Because facilitation is key to collaboration, Facilitator skills are highly valued.
  • Because members understand consensus and the decision-making process, they understand the need for divergent ideas, discussion of different perspectives, and convergence to a decision.
  • Members are equal, but not equivalent. They contribute according to their individual strengths and abilities.
  • Decisions are made considering input from stakeholders.
  • Goals and targets are set based on collaboration and more easily met through collaborating.
  • Members understand and support decisions because they are involved.
  • Flexibility and agility exist because the organization doesn’t need to sell the members on directions – members are well informed and part of the solution.
  • Members work with their vendors and customers in a manner that benefits all.
  • Success is based on group performance.


Making it real


How do you make it happen? The first requirement is management commitment. Once management is committed to nurturing a Collaborative Organization and have publicly announced their commitment and support, then the following will make it happen:


  • Lead – A Collaborative Organization is developed from the top down – collaborative leaders model the role.

  • Communicate – The organization needs answers to:

    • What is a Collaborative Organization?
    • How does it work?
    • Why is it important?
    • What are the next steps?

  • Train The organization requires training. (Just as societies, who suddenly become “democratic” without experience in democracy, struggle so will people who are suddenly told that they are collaborative.) Three levels of training are required:

    • Facilitator training is required for a cadre of full-time Facilitators. A complete and comprehensive class is required so that these Facilitators are able to facilitate any type of situation. Facilitators should become IAF CPF’s to continue learning and stay abreast of new trends and methods.
    • Collaborative Leadership training is required for management in the organization. The training must teach active listening, how to build a collaborative team, processes for strategic thinking and decision-making, how to embrace diversity, how to engage members and create a participatory environment, and how to lead by example and collaboration rather than directing. This should be mandatory for future management.
    • Overview training is required for all members. Members need to understand what “collaboration” means; what “consensus” means; how decision-making is done, and how they are part of the solution.

  • Collaborate – The training is put to use. The organization needs to begin collaborating and:

    • Review their policies to see how they need to change to support the new culture.
    • Reassess how they are structured – to see how well it works with the new culture.
    • Continuously redefine “collaboration” and their decision-making processes – i.e., collaboratively define and redefine their Collaborative Organization.




Why become a Collaborative Organization? The benefits can be staggering:


  • A larger pool of ideas exists because all members are involved. Brilliant ideas from all parts of the organization will surface and be considered.
  • Decision-making is shared and more transparent.
  • Risks and rewards are shared across the organization.
  • When members collaborate, they overcome barriers previously thought overwhelming.
  • Members have more of a stake in making the whole successful.
  • Vendors, members, and customers become more loyal.
  • Collaborative Organizations are more adaptable in a changing world.


And So…


There are small organizations that are collaborative and have been by design. Taking full advantage of the enormous human capital in an organization because of collaboration has phenomenal potential. logo


“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” Warren Bennis (Professor at USC)