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Thoughts relating to large-scale collaboration to collectively understand and solve urgent, complex problems.

This post is my stab at brining together some of the work of Dino Karabeg and Sam Hahn into a framework or at least a list. Comments are encouraged and appreciated. 

Collaboration is a matter of aligning intents and providing the means for actions and dialog to take place. 




There needs to be an agreement as to Why collaborate, what the Goal will be and how to measure how successful the collaboration is. This is absolute basic but sometimes ignored as being ‘too obvious’ whereas participants have their own, different reasons for the collaboration and that might be ok, as long as they are not in such different directions that they will pull the team apart.

•  Why collaborate. From Dino’s perspective this would be to advance the ideas, working practices – and most importantly – the ethos of Polyscopy of which the effort to understand how a better – more sustainable and equitable world, can develop while we are careening into the future with only ‘candles for headlights’.  Sam is a proponent of what he refers to as collaborology  which addresses how to collaborate. 

•  Definition of Goal. 

•  Definition of Scope. 

•  Definition of stakeholders.

•  How to measure Success.

Individual Responsibility


Sam Hahn has developed a system for Communication and Commitment to Collaboration which provides a position on the collaborators commitments listed above. The system involves filling in and ’signing’ a commitment form.

•  Take full responsibility. Taking responsibility for bringing the project forward, within assigned roles and in general.

•  Engagement. Active engagement, emotionally and practically, is crucial for actions to happen.

•  Take ownership of mutually agreed-upon roles

•  Be accountable for our roles, actions, outcomes, attitudes and influence.

•  Know what roles we fill, what roles other fill and how to switch roles when appropriate.

•  Self awareness and self-questioning instead of close minded. This includes actively listening to others when there is a disagreement. The reason for including this here is as a reminder that it’s crucial to take full responsibility and ownership, the successful collaborator must also accept their own limits and work with others particularly when they disagree and when it’s difficult, accepting criticism with joy – since when are realise we are wrong, is the only real time we grow.

Group Cohesion


Group cohesion is fostered through keeping organising principles shared by having active and honest dialog, to make sure everyone can fulfil their Individual Responsibilities, as listed above. 

•  Have rules of engagement as to how to deal with each other, posted somewhere easily available.  

•  Have a clear timeline with agreed upon frequency of contact.

•  Commitment to clear communication where the speaker takes responsibility for being as clear and useful as possible, while also being concerned with not wasting the audiences time, and the audience makes an effort to really understand what the speaker is actually trying to communicate. 

•  Know and buy in to what work methods will be used.

Knowledge Creation & Sharing

To support the melding of different people’s mindsets, backgrounds, expectations, other commitments and so on, a shared pool of knowledge about all relevant aspects of the project must be created and maintained, as part of the collaboration process itself. 

•  Have shared information resources including the following from Sam Han’s list of 8 Artefacts: 

1 Contacts List – Who are we and how can we contact each other?

2 Glossary – What terms do we use and what do they mean?

3 Project Charter – Why does this project / team exist?

4 Rules of Engagement – How do we work with each other?

5 Chronolog – Communications, esp meetings notes

6 Action Item Tracking System – How do we track what needs to be done?

7 Calendar – What happens when

8 References – Links to other related and relevant material

? Perhaps also shared status

Published inThoughts

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