Tag Archives: language

Synthesis in the Collaborative Flow: Why Process Matters (Ch.16)

As we move toward team dynamics that are based less on structure and more on flow, we face a dilemma. We gain the benefit of new thinking, serendipity and emerging ideas, but isn’t there danger that we lose focus?

The short answer is yes.

We must explore the need for balance points. We’ll also need a flexible lightweight process that allows us to navigate the challenges we’ll encounter. In my experience there are several ways we can enable the benefits of collaborative flow without losing our way. In today’s Book Review topic, as we explore The DNA of Collaboration Chapter 16 on Process, let’s take apart some of the most important contributing factors:

  • Step 1. Framing. We need enough structure to support a dialog, but space for it to evolve. How can we shift our facilitation thinking away from control?
  • Step 2. Guidelines & Introductions. Who is here? Why? How is this going to work?
  • Step 3. Context. We often plow into collaboration w/o thought to relevance. What are the challenges of changing context in real time, during the conversation? When should context be set? held? changed?
  • Step 4. Brainstorm & Dialog. How will we interact?
  • Step 5. Patterns. Looking for Patterns is like “mining for gold”. What practices can make this easier, more intuitive, more common?
  • Step 6. Synthesis. Aka “curation,” it’s about capture, prioritization of outcomes, and teasing out the value. Why is this so difficult? How can we get better at it?

Many who participate in the most established Twitter Chats will notice some of these elements. I believe they have evolved into their current form due to social collaboration in action. In fact, we continue to explore these dynamics at #smchat (social media), #ecosys (k12 edreform) and of course here at #cdna (collaboration practice).

Share your thoughts. Which aspects of these steps resonate? Which of these do you use most frequently?

Looking forward to our conversation. See you online.

Chris aka @sourcepov


Common Ground: The Power of Metaphor and Story (Ch.6/7)

When we talk about team play or collaboration, we often talk about the importance of establishing common ground. Trouble is, we spend very few cycles on how to get there.

Here are two approaches that interact in powerful ways:

  • From the literary side of the world there’s a valuable and relevant tool called Metaphor that links abstract notions to concrete things we can observe ..
  • Since the dawn of civilization, we’ve used Story to pass down values and create emotional connections across societies and generations ..

So what does all that mean for us as collaborators?

What if we were to weave metaphor and story together to form a new, more resilient way to get people working together, stitching a durable fabric of ideas and communication principles that everyone can relate to?  Well, actually, we just did. Reread that last sentence. The weaver and fabric metaphors are themselves powerful because they elicit the sense of creating something strong, new and valuable. Putting ourselves .. as collaborators .. into that metaphor is the stuff that draws interest and connection, and the short narratives wrapping around it all quickly evolve into emotional, high impact stories.

When our communication is rich and insightful and touches on our emotions, I’m finding that fundamentally deeper connections can be forged.

All of the sudden, collaboration is not only possible, it’s contagious.

Let’s unpack a few aspects of how these fascinating communication tools can help us.

Q1. Semantic Grounding. From Aristotle to Lakoff much has been said re: the power of metaphor to make the abstract more clear; what are your favorite examples?

Q2. K12 Education. How does the factory metaphor for learning (re: defects) stack up against a more organic metaphor, like the rhizome (re: rooted resilience)?

Q3. Emergence. In “Where Good Ideas Come From” @StevenBJohnson shares Reef, City & Web as 3 metaphors for emergence. Other examples? Something based on weaver or grower idea:  maybe Fabric? or Seedling?

Q4. E20 Storytelling. How can simple narratives tell a story? If we put our enterprise co-workers and stakeholders in the plot and discuss consequences, can we touch emotions?

I hope you’ll join us SAT 8/18 at 11aET as we discuss what I always find a fascinating topic.  If you want to dig further, you’ll find discussion of both threads in The DNA of Collaboration, now on Kindle, with softcover launch planned for Labor Day.

In the book, I discuss over 20 metaphors (including all of these) which can, when used in stories and even simple narratives, provide rich and powerful ways to establish common ground. In truth, language and communication are vast topics, and we are only scratching the surface ..

But as they say, you have to start somewhere.  See you online?

– Chris Jones, author, @sourcepov


Collaboration DNA: A Choice of Words (Ch.5)

When we collaborate, words are not only the currency of the ideas we share, they also form boundaries of what we’re able to learn and know.  

Words literally define our possibilities.

Regardless of our education or level of expertise, most of us are guilty of being careless with our semantics.  We speak without thinking, letting our scattered, ill-defined notions fall where they may. Ludwig Wittgenstein once called it the most fundamental problem in the great, century-old debates of philosophy and science.

As outlined in Chapter 5 of The DNA of Collaboration, failure to take care in choosing and defining our words can spell disaster for collaborative efforts.  Let’s unpack the topic by reflecting on five of the main ideas covered in this chapter.  Relevant authors noted.

  • Q1. To what extent are learning & knowledge constrained by the vocabulary and semantic choices of collaborators? #bohm #senge
  • Q2. What happens when we fail to choose our words carefully? #wittgenstein
  • Q3. Does rich & colorful language help us or hurt us when collaborating? When is semantic precision a better choice? #lakoff
  • Q4. “When we define common terms we create common ground” Have you used solution language in practice to build buy-in?
  • Q5. Like an iceberg, many of the implications of our words hide beneath the surface of what’s actually said. Is this to our advantage?

This will be the 2nd edition of our Virtual Book Tour.  I hope you can join us Saturday, 8/11, at 11 a.m. EDT.  If it’s anything like last week’s chat there will be a great exchange.  You’ll find our agenda for future sessions and transcripts from prior sessions at http://bit.ly/cdnaVBT

Thanks for your interest in the book, the topic, and the conversation.  I hope to see you there!

– Chris Jones aka @sourcepov, author The DNA of Collaboration


It’s Time for New Choices (from the back cover)

More and more we’re called upon to collaborate – but the factors that determine our success can be elusive. Collaboration requires focus, intention, time and engagement, key elements that are far too scarce in the 21st Century.

Collaboration is a choice. And it’s a choice many will avoid.

With application across commercial, social and public domains, this book introduces Collaboration DNA as the basic building blocks of team-based problem solving, the tools needed to attack our ever more difficult challenges:

  • Frameworks – simple, accessible ways to describe our abstract ideas
  • Messaging – improving our communication through language, metaphor  & story
  • Relationships – exploring listening, culture change, interpersonal dynamics and new, more flexible modes of governance
  • Flow – expanding scenarios for space, roles and process, with a look at virtual tools and how social technologies are changing the game
  • Possibilities – looking at the evolution of  knowledge management, a return to critical thinking and a new appreciation for complexity

The world isn’t waiting for us. The pressure is on. We must find ways to unlock the potential of our organizations, many of them gridlocked by the structural hierarchies left over from the century-old Industrial Revolution. Collaboration is not easy. But it promises deep rewards for those who invest time in getting it right.

The DNA of Collaboration is a practical guide for teams who intend to do better. And it’s not just a book, it’s conversation. Keep an eye on hashtag #cdna as we begin to unpack the core topics online.

Follow us on Twitter: @collabdna (book) and @sourcepov (author).