Category Archives: Case Studies

Get Things Done: 4 Ways to Collaborate for Accountability-Part 1

Do you ever procrastinate on things that you really want to accomplish? I see that everyone has raised their hand, including me.

Procrastination flow chart by scubaham

For the next few days,  I’ll explore four ways that you can use collaboration to chase away procrastination.

Project Collaborators

One of my clients wanted to create a safety and rescue class and knew that he could do it on his own — someday. He asked a colleague to work with him. Together they created a class that was better than either of them would have created on their own, got it done more quickly, and had more fun!

It’s sad but true that most of us honor our commitments to others more than we do our commitments to ourselves. There is something about not wanting to let others down that is a powerful motivator. Plus, it’s just more fun to feel that you are not alone and that someone else is working with you. Just last night I co-facilitated a fun workshop which came together easily and better by working with my colleague Ben Wood-Isenberg.

Working together on a joint project can help it get done well before the deadline because you have to schedule the time in your respective calendars. This is what we usually think about when we talk about collaboration and it’s not the only way. Check back tomorrow for a second method.

Debbie

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Empowered Collaboration – Part 3

For our third post by this title, we present the last 4 practices that enabled Michelle Chung and Nancy Donahue to have a successful collaboration while creating the tool mPWR10.

7. Be flexible and go with the flow

While Nancy and Michelle had educated guesses and did their homework, they weren’t attached to a particular outcome and they didn’t start with the idea of creating a business together. Their ability to test and be open to others’ ideas and to allow the next steps to unfold, led them to an outcome that exceeded their original expectations.

8. Commit to regular time together

Initially Michelle and Nancy met just once a week after work, discussing what they were reading and learning. They increased the time as they began to focus exclusively on mPWR10. Their regularly scheduled time enabled them to stay flexible and responsive to the input they were receiving. Currently, with an evolving, more mature business, they talk every day to keep on track with their goals.

9. Value and leverage each other’s differences

As Michelle and Nancy learned about each other’s strengths and differences, the way they structured their work evolved. Initially they went to every client meeting together. Later, they learned to brainstorm and plan together and then divide the work. They checked in frequently, reviewed what was working and what could be improved, and learned from each other rather than do everything together.

10. Keep the target goal in line with your values

Their core value is Create the results you want. It is the guiding principle behind the mPWR10 tool and Nancy and Michelle used it to weigh their decisions. They used the mPWR10 habits to create mPWR10!
Are these the definitive practices for a great collaborator? Michelle and Nancy would say no. They need to evolve, be tested and refined with the input of many others. So, these practices are a work in progress. Join us in considering them.

What do you think?

For more information about mPWR10 see http://www.mpwr10.com
Debbie

Empowered Collaboration – Part 2

We interviewed Michelle Chung and Nancy Donahue about what practices they used to collaborate when creating the tool, mPWR10. Our previous blog post listed 3 practices. Here are 3 more.

4. Take no criticism personally – everything is fodder for learning; get egos out of the way.

When Nancy and Michelle first began to share their tools with others, they needed to work at not personalizing criticisms from those who didn’t share their enthusiasm for their “baby.” They discovered the usefulness of adopting a learning attitude, where all input is received in the spirit of expanding, broadening or refining their ideas. Learning to set aside any defensiveness or sensitivity helped the duo to continue to improve their tool.

5. Combine focus with blue sky thinking; consider new options and put some on the shelf to pull out later

Michelle and Nancy learned that they brought different strengths to their collaboration. Nancy preferred to focus and jump into action. Michelle liked to sleep on an idea and deliberate before executing. Michelle also was more of a blue sky thinker, envisioning what might be possible long-term. Nancy favored operating in the present. Along with becoming accustomed to one another’s styles, they realized the benefit of stepping back to think and being action-oriented. When Michelle started blue sky thinking, Nancy imagined how to execute those future plans.

6. Trust one another

In order for collaborations to be successful, participants need to be in synch with the vision, goals and intention for the project. The glue for this type of alignment is a high level of trust. Michelle and Nancy had many years of working together before launching the mPWR10 project. They built a sense of familiarity and uncovered common core values. Both women had each other’s best interests at heart and admired each other’s successes. Trust enabled them to work independently and then to make accelerated progress when they met for updates.

Please read the next blog post entitled, “Empowered Collaboration – Part 3”, to uncover the 4 remaining recommendations Nancy and Michelle have to contribute to your collaborations.

Maddie

Empowered Collaboration – Part 1

When a person says something “changed my life” it gets my attention. I was at a professional meeting and the woman speaking was talking about something called mPWR10

mPWR10  is a 10-minute-per-day tool created by Nancy Donahue and Michelle Chung that teaches six habits distilled from the research on positive and peak performance psychology. After testing the product and finding it very valuable, we were very curious about how they collaborated on its creation. We set up a phone interview to explore what the keys were to their collaboration. Over the next three blog posts, we will report on the 10 practices Nancy and Michelle cited as keys to their collaboration.

  1. Keep track of the passion that brought you together

At the beginning of their collaboration, both women were employees of another firm. When that firm experienced manufacturing difficulties and eventually collapsed, it would have been easy to seek employment elsewhere. Start-up cash-flow challenges could have led them to drop their collaboration, but Nancy and Michelle calmed their uneasiness by hunkering down and focusing on the reason for their collaboration – a passion for supporting people’s success. They launched mPWR10.

  1. Know your value proposition

Michelle and Nancy are both expert synthesizers of information. Their capacity to glean the most important threads from the science of positive and peak performance psychology allowed them to create a simplified, accessible and practical set of habits. From the reactions of others, they learned that this talent was critical to the value they could create.  A client told them that with mPWR10, “I can throw away all the other books I have.”

3.  Seek input freely and widely

“Our goal was to collaborate with everyone since we knew we didn’t have all of the answers”, said Michelle. They drew in other smart people such as Joe Dowling, a peak-performance psychologist, and sought feedback from 500-600 mPWR10 users. The 6 habits evolved because so many people have used it and shared their experience and suggestions.

Read the next post to learn 3 more collaboration practices.

Debbie

Promises, Promises: How Collaboration Helps Strangers Meet Goals Part 3

In this final post about Promise Partners, Ben Wood-Isenberg explains how eight strangers come together to support each other. It really works. I was there! Debbie

In my last two posts I described how I got the idea for Promise Partners and developed the program plan. So we came to the day of the program. Eight people came together at my friend Sharon’s house that were from all areas of life, age groups, and professions. The program of Promise Partners enabled the group to build an intense sense of community for a group of strangers. This leads to the next collaboration point:

Collaboration Point 4: The power of the circle and dreams. The evening began as we sat in a circle, choosing cards with a single word on them (i.e. Passion, wisdom) and telling about how it related to where we were in life. Although we had 9 people, myself included, the introductions took 25 minutes and really created the foundation for the community as we saw each other as real people. The space that made that possible was sitting in a circle. As we moved through the rest of the evening, we explored an area of life that would make the biggest difference if it were better or different. In this process, we focused on when this area was at its best and what it would look like in the future if life always looked like that. I watched as sharing the stories of past successes and the dreams people had for the future really built connections among strangers.

Soul Coaching Oracle Cards developed by Denise Linn

Collaboration Point 5: Sharing is the access to action. Although this process worked really well, I didn’t exactly know how to get people from what they saw for themselves to a place where they knew an action they wanted to take and were willing to ask for support from the others in the group. Naturally, I just asked people to start sharing with each other. This occurred in a couple different ways with a slightly different question each time that got closer to an action people would be willing to take to create the future they dreamed. So often we are jarred in the groups we work with because we move so quickly from a vision to action. The piece that we often leave out is the personal part, where people have the chance to step into the ownership of the vision and their future, and are internally motivated to act. Surprisingly, individuals in the group sharing one-on-one with each other made the difference in creating that motivation to act. By the time people had shared with about ¾ of the group, everyone was willing to move forward.

photo by deglispiriti

The rest happened organically. As we sat back in the group, we each had an area that we wanted to work on and a promise that we wanted to make. From that point, partnerships amongpeople naturally developed. By the end of the evening every person, unexpectedly myself included, was involved in at least one partnership with someone else in the group. Partners showed what they created by linking large sticky notes saying “The support that would make a difference is….” and “The Support I commit to give my partner is…”

As we came to the end of the evening, one of the members of the group said, “So we’re not going to meet again?” I responded, “Well, would you like to meet again?” “Yes she said, don’t you all?” Every single person in the group responded yes, and we set up a date to meet again and reflect in September.

The event itself was a true testament to the possibility of collaboration and community in any group. In barely two and a half hours, eight strangers from very diverse backgrounds and places in life saw each other as assets, built a strong community, and partnered in supporting each other. It was proof that collaborations can be created among anyone.

Ben Wood-Isenberg creates the conditions for positive change that help people and organizations accomplish their hopes and dreams. He is a new addition to Wholonomy Consulting llc, having recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Global Studies. Ben has worked with a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona providing training and curriculum development, community building workshops, facilitated community discussions, and system-change processes. In this capacity, Ben utilizes the approaches of Appreciative Inquiry,Technology of Participation, World Café, and Open Space Technology.

Promises, Promises: How Collaboration Helps Strangers Meet Goals Part 2

In yesterday’s post, Ben described how the idea of Promise Partners came to him. Today’s post continues with the collaborative design process. Debbie

I used a collaborative process to get from the idea of Promise Partners to the pilot group and here are a few of the things I realizedabout community, collaboration and working with others.

Collaboration Point 1: Share excitement. Many people come up with great ideas that just stay in their minds and don’t make it into reality. I was so excited about this project that I just couldn’t help but share around the office. The more people I shared with the clearer the project became and every step of the way, I inspired someone to take a part in the project. Every person that played a part in designing this project saw the possibility of this program and how excited I was about it. From this I learned that if you are genuinely excited about something and share with the people in your life, surprising connections happen. I noticed the distinct difference in the response I got between the times I was distracted or uninspired and the times where I was empowered and excited. The excitement I embodied and shared involved over 20 people in the design and implementation of the pilot group.

picture by Alphachimp Studio

Collaboration Point 2: Involve people smarter or more experienced than you. To build a program that would bring together strangers and transform them into a community ofpartners, I knew I needed some help. I invited a group of facilitators, coaches, and community development experts to participate on a call to develop the program together. Ironically, I had come in with a certain perspective of how it should be done, but I was committed to listening. To really enable myself to listen, I requested that a friend of mine guide the meeting and be accountable for a consensus. On the call an incredible program was produced that blended coaching, facilitation, and appreciative inquiry. New ideas came up such as using appreciative interviews to look at sustainable change in a person’s life, using the Wheel of Life to identify areas to work on, and a graphic method of displaying promises. All of these areas were brand new, and things that I never would have thought of. On that call, we thought through each of the pieces and developed a possible program from it.

picture by Pat Castaldo

Collaboration Point 3: Find the strengths in the views of others. Nonetheless, I was in an interesting position by listening. I didn’t agree with everything that was in the program or see it as the best way to get the outcome we wanted. My first reaction was to throw out the ideas and go with my own. But, as I looked at what was talked about in that meeting closer, I saw that there was value in every idea that was suggested. If we could tweak to the Wheel of Life to use it as a base for conversation rather than an self-evaluation we would have an excellent start to the conversation. If we used appreciative interviews instead to look at where this area worked well, then we’d have an open exploration that could guide us towards action. And if we did depict the promises visually, it would be very captivating. By looking at each of the ideas suggested and finding the strength at the core of the suggestion, we were able to use them in the best possible way for the program. By coming from a place that the ideas of others are essentially valuable, then the real job was to find the core of truth in that idea that would best contribute to the project.

Tomorrow I’ll post about what we learned during the pilot event.

Ben Wood-Isenberg creates the conditions for positive change that help people and organizations accomplish their hopes and dreams. He is a new addition to Wholonomy Consulting llc, having recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Global Studies. Ben has worked with a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona providing training and curriculum development, community building workshops, facilitated community discussions, and system-change processes. In this capacity, Ben utilizes the approaches of Appreciative Inquiry, Technology of Participation, World Café, and Open Space Technology.

How can you collaboratively develop your great ideas?

Collaborative Agility Case Study

“I think they will hear the message differently if it comes from you,” said my client.

The message she hired me to bring to the leaders in her dispersed healthcare organization — “Effective teamwork can create better results.”

My client is known for living this message herself but at this annual leader retreat she wanted to bring more emphasis to the critical need for her staff to think beyond their location or function to effect the care for patients.

Taking advantage of the premise that the outsider can get away with ideas that insiders can’t, I suggested that we create an interactive format to the retreat where people were working in teams and reflecting on their experience.  This was a significant change over the business-like retreats held in the past and my client wondered aloud  whether her organization would resonate with it or judge the activities to be too game-like.  After all, they all had been quite serious students earning advanced degrees in their specialty.

I could feel my client’s dilemma.  She wanted to spearhead a successful event AND she wanted to ignite some new energy around teamwork.   To her credit, my client decided to jump into the new interactive approach.  The risk she took was a testament to the degree of agility she has as a leader.  She changed an approach for a desired result.  This agility has been labeled,  “Situational Leadership”  by Ken Blanchard and can be further studied in his newest book, Leading At A Higher Level.

Last Wednesday was retreat day.  The assembled group took part in a round robin ice-breaker, “Knot the rope” team exercise and simulations devoted to teaming. The energy in the room was high throughout.  Some of those who my client least expected to be energized by the team-building activities rated the day with high marks.   People typically known to be hesitant in large groups were seen as leading.  Some who usually are out-spoken took leadership from others.  Agility abounded.

When have you purposely placed yourself in a new situation and adapted to it?  When have you delegated a task in order to help someone’s flexibility develop?