Category Archives: Personal Development

What attributes are necessary for creating a collaborative work environment?

photo 4I recently participated in a Group Methods Facilitation Course run by ICA. The last activity gave me the opportunity to facilitate a Consensus Workshop around the question: What attributes are necessary for creating a collaborative work environment?

I was thrilled not only by the richness of the responses (too good not to share), but also, by the diversity and similarity of responses. This last part sounds like a contradiction, but, what I am really trying to get at is, even though we all come from different workplaces and backgrounds, and have different roles and responsibilities, we still have common needs, goals and interests!

Here is a quick overview of what I did with the group:

1) I asked everyone in the group to come up with  6-7 responses to the question and write them on a piece of paper.

2) Then I asked them to share the ones they were most passionate about, and I placed them up on the board so that everyone could see.

3) As a group we clarified anything that wasn’t clear and grouped those that were similar.

4) Then I asked the group to share the rest of their responses and we continued to create groups or add them to existing.

5) Lastly, we decided on a summary name or phrase that best described the responses in a category (in another words, a consensus answer to the question!).

In the end we had 6 different categories of responses. We summarized these as the following (I have included a few of the individual answers under each of the six categories so that you get an idea of the individual responses):

  1. Team support
    • Help team members as needed
    • Best practice database to share resources
  2. Framing the work
    • Create work plan
    • Define roles and responsibilities
  3. Building staff rapport
    • Informal conversation spaces
    • Opportunities to “walk in my shoes”
    • Chance to come together and have fun
  4. Common goals
    • Annual team goal setting workshop
    • Specific goals and outcomes
  5. Shared vision of success
    • Shared expectation of what “success” looks like
    • Collaboratively create a way to measure success
  6. Consistent communication
    • Regular team meetings
    • Include everyone in dialogue
    • Formal conversation spaces

This is the result in a short amount of time (20mins) with a group of people that work in totally different work places. I am looking forward to trying this with my colleagues.


Highlights from the ICA Group Facilitation Methods course

I just completed ICA’s Group Facilitation Methods course in Vancouver.

I was pretty excited to finally get some theory behind all of my experience. We worked on two methods in particular:

  • Focused Conversation Method
  • Consensus Workshop Method

Some of the highlights of the course included:

Use of an installation to demonstrate the focused conversation method (basically using Objective, Reflective, Interpretive and Decisional questions to guide conversation around a question/subject/event/issue). Not only did I get to experience being part of a focused conversation audience, but, I was able to see value in how installations can demonstrate diverse thinking/experiences amongst a group and inspire profound/creative thinking around future actions/take aways.

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Toys (?!)

Each table had a basket of toys accessible to participants during all times. In the beginning, it was a mystery if we were able to do something with the toys or not. Most of us chose to leave them alone, however, after awhile we realized we had permission to play with thems. On the second day I indulged. However, I felt a bit embarrassed after choosing toys that made noise or created a distraction while the facilitator was speaking. In hindsight, I believe the toys were there to create a playful setting, and perhaps to keep us busy when we finished a task earlier. However, I am not totally sure. I will consider using baskets of toys in future workshops, but I would limit any toys that make noise.

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Practicing the Consensus Workshop Method:

Practicing the Consensus Workshop Method in small groups resulted in some really rich information about Collaborative Work Environments and How to Contribute to Individual Health and Wellness. An individual brainstorming session on these topics lead to collaborative categorization and naming of our ideas. We all felt like we had achieved some really practical insights. For instance we identified that the following can contribute to individual health and wellness:

  • Celebrating work and life (balance, recognition of successes)
  • Incorporating break time into your life (time for yourself)
  • Body care (exercise/meditation)
  • Putting joy into your life (have fun and do things you love)
  • Reflection time (journalling, “tech” turn off, mental health time outs, positive people, express feelings)
  • Rest and recharge (lots of sleep)
  • Fuel yourself (good food and beverage)

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