Tag Archives: collaborative techniques

Pressed Into Collaborative Service

Be forewarned! If you go out to dinner with me on a day when I didn’t get to write, you may be pressed into collaborative service. Such was the fate of my husband and friends last night.

by Angela Rutherford on flickr creative commons

Writing – blog posts and book pages – is my top priority from now until March and I am applying reward incentives to keep myself focused. One of those is “No wine until I write two!” The two is two blog posts (to stay ahead of the game), two pages (on the book) or two genuine hours of writing (even if it doesn’t yield a finished product).

Yesterday got away from me before I could write my quota. With me at dinner were my husband George, and friends Mike and Diane. We’d already ordered the wine so I had to act quickly. I asked, “Can someone give me two examples of how collaboration worked for you this week?” Both Mike and Diane came up with an answer. I’ll save Diane’s collaboration example for another day.

Mike talked about finding a problem with the way a customer’s data was showing up on reports that his company produces. He got his team together to solve the issue, considering whether the data was coming in incorrectly, what happened to the data next, finding the source of the problem, deciding if it applied to other customers and estimating the cost of fixing it. The point of the story was that the team collaboration helped to resolve the issue quickly.

Much to Mike’s dismay, Diane and George started asking him a whole lot of questions, attempting to collaboratively solve the issue all over again! My glass of wine was perched at my place-setting waiting for me to take my first sip so I asked Mike if he needed any help and he said “No everything is being handled.” Yahoo!

The moral is: If you’re out to dinner with me and supply an example be sure to start by stating what help, if any, you need. Hmmm…that’s a tip that might work in other situations too.

How do you motivate yourself to stay focused on your priorities?

Debbie

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Collaborating Long Distance

Shackleton was not impressed by our ideas

I have a lot of experience with collaborating long distance and find that it works quite well.  For example, yesterday I met by phone with Maddie Hunter, who lives in NJ, and Gwyn Nichols who is here in AZ. We talked for about an hour or so, brainstorming and planning a presentation that we will give in a few months.

Then, we divided up some assignments and  hung up to write individually for a half-hour. We emailed our drafts and got back on the phone to discuss and edit and plan next steps. It was productive and fun, and together we came up with ideas that would not have occurred to us individually.

We’ve used google docs (docs.google.com)to brainstorm by writing ideas simultaneously in a spreadsheet and to store documents that we both need to access. Now we’re trying a collaborative online project management software program that Gwyn introduced us to – viewpath.net. Has anyone ever tried it?

What tools do you use to collaborate long distance?

Debbie

Update on Consultant’s Retreat

Community and Collaboration — these are a few of my favorite things. On Tuesday I got great big doses of both by attending the HNK Consultants’ Community retreat.

HNK, which stands for Health in a New Key, is a group of consultants who work with non-profit organizations. It is sponsored by the St. Luke’s Health Initiative and facilitated by Bonnie Wright. The point of the group is to come together and share ideas, tools and best practices.

We started the day with a World Cafe (http://www.theworldcafe.com/) to consider the question “In your experience in building healthy and resilient organizations and communities, what are the essential elements that lead to success?” This was followed by other useful questions that evolved from the first conversations.

My favorite part of the day was a series of speed presentations — only five minutes per speaker!  It’s not easy to convey useful information in an engaging way in such a short time and all of the presenters did a fine job. The presenters and topics were:
  • Elaine Fogel: Your Consultant Brand – Developing Your Brand Personality
  • Karen Ramsey: Identifying Key Leadership Competencies in the Nonprofit Sector
  • Leslie Knowlton: Character
  • Andrea Allen: Community Impact Through Mapping
  • Reuben Sanchez: “That reminds me of a story…”
  • Carolyn A. Holmes: Engaging Leadership Volunteers in Building Organizational Capacity
  • Diana V. Hoyt: The Effective Fundraising Project and Its Impact on Creating Fundraising Strategies
  • Dolores Retana: Cultural Sensitivity in Board Development
  • Steve Weitzenkorn: The Value and Power of Trust. . . and How to Build It
Jack Smith, of http://www.thesociallatte.com, gave a great presentation for us on how to use social media for our businesses. There is a blog post link on his site that covers many of the same details. Jack told us about an interesting website that licenses short instructional videos (http://www.commoncraft.com/twitter-search).

And we ended the day using Open Space technologies (http://www.openspaceworld.org/) to choose questions or topics that we wanted to discuss more. It’s a great way to turn information and good ideas into action.

The annual retreat is planned by a highly collaborative sub-group of HNK members and they did an excellent job. Thanks!

Strengths-based Collaboration Approaches

Have you experienced Open Space and World Cafe techniques? They are designed to quickly foster meaningful discussion and collaboration among large groups. These powerful methods are frequently used to focus on what is working well (strengths) and how to build on that base.

I’m off to a full-day workshop today. It is put on by and for consultants who work with non-profits. Check back for an update later!