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  • Writer's picturesabina strachan

Want to collaborate but going nowhere fast? Try a different approach

Have you ever tried to work with others to solve a problem or achieve a common objective and struggled to reach the shared goal? If that sounds familiar, then read on to find out how ‘Pat’ and ‘Viv’ tackled this issue.

Pat had recently joined a makers collective in her local town. She decided to get involved in some of the committee work while the collective was looking for ways to expand.

At her first committee meeting, the group chair, Viv, explained that there was broad agreement to increase the range of work represented by the collective and find ways to generate more income, such as increasing the frequency and geographical spread of the events, working with other collectives, doing more digital marketing, and looking at the idea of digital sales.

Committee members had contributed lots of ideas over several meetings, but it had proved difficult to reach agreement on the way forward. Pat noted that some members took the opportunity to restate the case for their ideas. The meeting ended with the expansion strategy unresolved.

Pat thought about what she’d observed. She was keen to see the collective operating as effectively as possible and she wanted to try new things to promote her products, but could see that the committee had been going round in circles with the strategy for some time.

Pat decided to approach Viv with her thoughts on how they might tackle the problem. She felt that the collective would benefit from a more structured process and some facilitative support. This is what Pat suggested:

  1. Bring together a small group of members to work together to draft an expansion strategy over a short period of time. Pat would be happy to act as facilitator.

  2. Viv would approach individuals to join the group that had diverse perspectives, were open to challenge and prepared to follow a collaborative process.

  3. The group’s purpose would be to prioritise ideas that were most likely to meet the objectives (such as their potential to generate additional income), plan the key steps to test / implement those ideas, and identify any ideas that had potential but needed to be developed further so that they could be fully assessed.

Viv thought that this approach could work well and went ahead and got committee approval to go ahead. Pat’s approach meant that a range of views would be represented in the group, they would have a clear remit, and all the ideas would be assessed in a transparent way which would make it easier to adopt the strategy and more straightforward to implement.

What was Pat’s experience facilitating the strategy group? What challenges did she face and how did she overcome them? What did she learn? What impact did the process have on the group, committee and, ultimately, the collective? Read the next blog to find out!


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