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Collaboration

According to the Engagement Streams Framework, pp. 5, people need a safe place in which to collaborate. This is the premise for my collaboration plan. collab-plan-e-portfolio Our text for our Collaboration course, (Mattessich, et al. 2004, p. 4) supports this in terms of environment; the environment is first of the six success categories for collaboration.

People with a common goal and shared values respond positively to ground rules, commitment, and guidelines for enhancing communication. Most people see enjoying in the rewards after the work as a positive and even an incentive. People generally are willing to put in the hard work if they can see the prize at the end and feel it is attainable. Also, sometimes people simply forget the steps to effective dialogue and collaboration and reminders can be a thoughtful and welcome addition to meetings. Ground rules and guidelines can also keep the collaboration focused and on track. Mattessich et al., (2004) explains a commitment to a common goal and the sharing of rewards and resources as major aspects of what makes collaboration work.

I have learned that I cannot “make” effective collaboration happen by controlling others’ views. What I can do is take ownership of my part of the collaboration and do not jump to conclusions, use practices of effective dialogue (active listening, suspending judgment, respecting others’ perspectives) use my best compassionate communication, self regulate, use conflict as a tool, know the difference between peacemaking and conflict resolution and when to use each, pay attention to what is not being said and non verbal communication and leave my ego at the door. Learning and practicing these lessons has made me a better communicator, listener, collaborator and leader.

Together with the stakeholders for my project, I can and we can, within our communities, increase the knowledge of compassion and its importance. If we can articulate well the benefits one gets when committing random acts of kindness, we can be more effective.  These aspects support the main goal of raising awareness of compassion and the need for its cultivation. The over-arching goal is to make the world a more compassionate place and I believe, with the efforts of the stakeholders, the collaborative process, and compassionate hearts, we can be successful.

Explore concepts of collaboration in human interaction

Artifacts
Dialogue and collaboration posts for week one and assignment one – Success and failure of collaboration, experience with successful or non-successful collaboration, and a current real-life collaboration situation.

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Rationale and Application
These two discussion posts for week one show our grasp on components needed for successful collaboration, as well as a practical example from our lives on our collaboration experiences. My life experience includes many collaboration attempts, along with several successes and failures. I point out in my posts, what I feel are the most important components of collaboration from our text: Commitment to mutual relationships and goals, jointly developed structure and shared responsibility, mutual authority and accountability for success and sharing of resources and rewards (Mattessich et al, 2004, p.4). Without this combination of components, collaboration efforts are futile. In addition, it is important to understand that the individuals’ level of commitment, sharing of resources and rewards, definition and execution of the collaboration plan, etc. are major determinants of success when collaborating. As examples in real life, I gave my large family as the prime example and the fact that I’ve had to collaborate all my life to survive, and included the collaboration project I am currently working on for my Capstone Project. In this real life example, I discuss some of the barriers the team is facing and what I feel needs to be addressed, and I show examples from our text, on some options we have to improve the collaboration effort. This shows that I understand the basic fundamentals and have applied or noticed where they can be applied in practice.

Our first assignment is a testament to how well we have digested and internalized the collaboration materials and strategies for effective collaboration. We were tasked to discuss a current collaboration project in which we are involved and discuss issues within the collaboration in terms of stakeholders or lack of components. I chose to use my project team collaboration as an example and pointed out where we lacked effective collaboration components such as defined roles, a defined plan, etc. We also had to reflect on our intrapersonal communication and discuss how that bias affects the collaboration effort. It was a great activity for organizing and categorizing our thoughts and ideas and applying them to a practical situation. Also a good way for us to reflect upon all we have learned in such a short period of time.

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Change
Our text was very helpful in terms of defining proper collaboration and helping me create a map in my mind of how a successful collaboration is structured. I know what is needed for a group to come together and be successful, but the text defined the components and factors and gave me a means to articulate the concepts and a way to visualize the concepts in action. For example, if I was asked what collaboration was before internalizing our reading materials, I would have hit on some major factors but not all of them. After the first week, I can truly say I can speak to what is needed for effective collaboration and can touch on all the major points.

Articulate contemporary understandings of power and privilege differentials in organizations and society

Artifact
Week three dialogue discussion – Personal view of power, position and privilege.

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Rationale and Application
My response for week three’s dialogue post, is my understanding of power and privilege and how I can apply the power and privilege I may have to collaboration projects and conflict resolution, in order to benefit others. The discussion post also discusses how I see the power and privilege components in society; shifting or not shifting. The important take-away here is understanding what I can do to help others. The example I give is compassion and community based, describing how random acts of kindness and projects that increase the world’s compassion index are where I feel I have the power, position and privilege to benefit others. Another way I show how well I am grasping the concept is through my thoughts on how I see the world shifting (or not). The example I give of a shift in the world is in music content (lyrics about women being strong an independent) and that I notice increasing diversity in government positions in my area of the world. Claremont Lincoln University and the Presido University in San Francisco are additional examples of a shift in power and privilege. These universities offer meaningful programs that promise change, as well as making education more accessible to a broader spectrum of people. Until these universities were established, there was not an affordable option or any potential for scholarship, for those less affluent, wanting to expand their educations beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Change
The change for me this third week was a big one. I had never thought of myself as having any position, power or privilege so it helped me to recognize that I do, and more importantly, how I can apply that in the world to influence positive change. It also caused me to reflect on the changes in the world and how I see those flowing together into something new for those who have long been labeled as “different” or even “wrong”. Atlee’s power types helped me to realize there are different types of power and this changed my perspective of power, making it more broad and not so narrow and negative (Atlee, T.  2011 p. 1). Power can be used for the benefit of others; it simply depends on how it is used.

Identify and engage stakeholders to achieve definable goals

Artifact
Week five assignment – As a team, develop a conflict resolution strategy for a specific context.

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Rationale and Application
For week five, we had to put our collaboration skills that we had learned thus far into action. We were to create a final paper as a group, which required us to coordinate meetings, problem solve, use influence, and most importantly, commit to a common goal within a specific deadline. The objective was to develop a conflict resolutions strategy, so we were able to incorporate many theories and topics we had recently learned. Looking back, I realize our collaboration could have been more organized, however, we did define roles first and that was a grand step in the right direction. We did not make a strategic plan, which we should have. It was also interesting to see how ego plays a part in collaboration and conflict resolution… as it can render the effort useless if satisfying an ego becomes important. Overall, we identified, and engaged each other as stakeholders to achieve a definable goal. One member, and this is worth adding, was MIA for most of the week, appearing finally on Sunday, the day the project was due, and came through with his portion of the project. This did cause us to problem solve and create a back up plan, should he remain MIA. It also shows how one stakeholder can affect the collaboration with level of commitment, or lack thereof. We still had a choice as to whether or not this would affect the outcome, and that was clear. We achieved the goal.

Change
The group project validated how I enjoy working in groups, as well as individually. As we were collaborating, I wasn’t, and I should have been, thinking about effectively collaborating in addition to the quality of the common goal. I realize that now. We were building shared meaning, resolving breakdowns and creating translucence, however, we could also have rationally applied several aspects of our Mattessich text. I am referring to defining an initial plan. I will do this in the future. I can’t give examples of how the group was more mindful during conflict resolution and collaboration efforts, but we probably were unconsciously. I do have a better understanding of how groupthink can affect people and how cultural elements play a part in engaging and influencing stakeholders. In terms of our tech-mediated communication, we did not have any difficulty; we used video conferencing, texting, phone calls and phone conferences. In our group, less the one member who was MIA most of the time, collaboration was alive an well, but still had vast upside potential.

 
Create conditions for stakeholders to synthesize diverse perspectives in group settings

Artifact
Week six collaboration discussion – Styles of conflict resolution.

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Rationale and Application
The post for week six collaboration discusses understanding conflict resolution styles. This can help us to become more self aware and more aware others’ styles. Understanding the way others deal with conflict, especially as a default, can improve collaboration by decreasing fear of unknown reactions or decreases chances of misunderstanding. Another way to create an environment for stakeholders to collaborate effectively is to create a safe place where they can be comfortable expressing disagreement (Engagement Streams 2013 p. 3).  Turning conflict into a positive and using it as a tool to explore other perspectives helps others to to embrace diversity in perspectives and to feel safe doing so. The artifact shows that I have a strong understanding of the different styles of conflict resolution, how being aware of the concept is important and that the environment for collaboration is key.

Change
Week six offered a major change for me. In our culture, conflict is generally negative. The TED talk by Margaret Heffernan explored conflict as a positive and showed how it can be used to offer other ideas and address unanticipated challenges. This new view of conflict is liberating as I don’t have to view it as a problem, which means am not so inclined to avoid it, as is my default conflict style, and more inclined to embrace it as a learning opportunity.

Effectively manage interpersonal, organizational, and technology-mediated conflicts

Artifact
Collaboration week five – Explain strategy for effective peacemaking, conflict resolution and cultivating collaboration.

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Rationale and Application
This discussion post shows my understanding of establishing and maintaining effective collaboration, dialogue/negotiation inter-personally and organizationally by discussing some vital ways to manage conflict and find a solution. I gave an example of Goodreau’s conflict resolution tips:

  • be wise, not smart
  • put your concerns on the table
  • avoid “I” statements
  • engage with your body language

(Goodreau, J. 2012 p. 1)

When communicating using technology mediums, the same rules apply, however non verbal aspects (tone of voice, inflection, body language, facial expressions) become even more important when the interaction is not face-to-face. One tip that is not mentioned in this post that I would like to add is the importance of leaving ego out of the mix. For successful resolution, people cannot be defending positions, rather they must be open to new ideas and new perspectives. The tips discussed are great ground rules or guidelines to follow when trying to find a solution to conflict.

Change
Simply having some guidelines when facing conflict is helpful and having these specific tips and techniques will help me immensely when I find myself in these types of situations. I generally avoid “I” statements and generalizations but keeping the conversation results oriented is new for me and I find it vital for the purpose. Week five broadened my toolkit for conflict resolution and introduced me to new ways to enter into dialogue to negotiate, collaborate and problem solve.

References

Atlee, T. (2011). Four types of power. Retrieved from:
http://www.tomatleeblog.com/?p=86456025  

MindTools. The ladder of inference: Avoiding “jumping to conclusions.” Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_91.htm 

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation. Engagement streams framework. Retrieved from:
http://www.ncdd.org/files/NCDD2010_Engagement_Streams.pdf (Links to an external site.)

Mindtools. Avoiding groupthink: Avoiding fatal flaws in group decision making. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_82.htm (Links to an external site.)

Mattessich, P. W., Murray-Close, R.A. & Monsey, B.R. (2001). Collaboration: What makes it work? Fieldstone Alliance: MN.

MindTools. Conflict Resolution: Resolving conflict rationally and effectively. Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_81.htm (Links to an external site.)

Rykrsmith, E. (2011). What is your conflict resolution style? Retrieved from: http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2011/10/13/what-is-your-conflict-resolution-style/ (Links to an external site.)

Goudreau, J. (2013). The Secret art of negotiation: Take your ego off the table. Forbes. Retrieved from:http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/10/08/the-secret-art-of-negotiating-take-your-ego-off-the-table/

Buell, B. (2007, January 15). Negotiation Strategy: Seven common pitfalls to avoid. Stanford Business. Retrieved from:
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/negotiation-strategy-seven-common-pitfalls-avoid

TED. Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree. Retrieved from:
https://www.ted.com/search?q=conflict 

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