Archive for the 'collaboration' Category

Sep 16 2015

Sharing Practices from Project Community 15

flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I’m hip deep into this year’s Project Community course with the Hague University of Applied Sciences. Again, one of my fabulous partners is Alan Levine, aka Cogdog. I love working with Alan because we together we identify a need, throw ideas back and forth, then experiment and iterate. Alan is, among MANY things,  a tech steward, so not only can he experiment with present external tools, but he can tinker with our core technology, WordPress, and hack even more functionality out of it. (Want to learn more about Alan and his tech stewardship? Watch this.)

I’m a great resource finder/sharer. We have tried a variety of ways to share these resources with our students and to encourage their own resource sharing. We’ve tried curating a library of links in a Google doc, putting them on a WordPress page, dumping them in the program’s Facebook page, Tagboard (for resources shared via Twitter)  and Storify. But we have not been satisfied. So here is this year’s hack from Alan:

Nancy and I are exploring ways for the #ProjComm15 to generate a community built resource. There are many ways to group curate content yet most involve asking you to Sign Up For Another Tool And Go There All The Time. We want to try something easier that works into the flow we are already asking you to do– use your team blog.

When you find a resource really worth sharing, most typically people push it to a social media stream, our facebook group, maybe even twitter with our hashtag more or less saying “here is something neat”. That works if you happen to see it, but it just rushes on by.  We still encourage you to do this as a stream of raw information resource just include a #projcomm15 tag in it; it will flow into our tagboard.

But go one step farther. If the resource is really useful, write a short blog post on your blog. Make sure you add a tag (a box for tags is on the side of your composer and add the tag coolstuff (one word, no space), and any othe useful descriptor tags. When published, all of these post will show up on our site via . Automatically. Without using another new tool.

Posts on Projcomm Faculty blog  written by Nancy White

ProjComm always stimulates me to pay attention to the flow of ideas and resources that come across my screen, so I’m enjoying blogging them. Sometimes I tweet or Facebook the posts right after I put them up to do a little more amplification/cross pollination. If you have anything cool to share, let me know!

Source: coolstuff | From the Project Community Faculty

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Sep 09 2015

What art can teach us about knowledge work

painting4How Art Reveals the Limits of Neuroscience” by Alva Noë is a fascinating read that asks us to step beyond the idea that we are our brains. It is stimulating me to reflect on some things I’ve been trying to articulate about knowledge sharing and  the transformation knowledge into new ideas, application, etc. It relates to some conversations on how we share knowledge across research projects, between journalists who care about their communities, and people who are trying to improve the world.

In observing how our experience of art changes when someone else shares their experience of the work, Noë writes:

This shift — from not seeing to seeing, from seeing to seeing differently, from not getting it to getting it — is actually very common. We live and learn, look and ask, bring what’s around us into focus continuously. At least part of what makes art different, or special, is that it yields the opportunity not only to “get” something, perhaps something new, but also to catch ourselves in the very act. In this way, art illuminates us to ourselves.

Interestingly, when I started to read it, I was not actually looking at art itself. The experience Noë writes about resonated deeply to my experiences of seeing people take in an idea and transform it into something they can use, apply, and “own” in the very productive sense. Own it in terms of being able to to use it meaningfully. Imagine a way of reducing open defecation, or changing water use habits. Imagine being able to take the building blocks of an idea and transform it into a locally useful solution. She frames it as the “world as the playing field for our activity,” and thus the interplay with it.

“This is not to deny that the world acts on us, triggering events in the nervous system. Of course it does! But the thing is, we act right back. Every movement of the eye, head, and body changes the character of our sensory coupling to the world around us. Objects are not triggers for internal events in the nervous system; they are opportunities or affordances for our continuing transactions with them. The world shows up, in experience, not like a diagram in a brain chart but as the playing field for our activity. Not the brain’s activity. Our activity. Not activity inside our head. But activity in the world around us.”

Now that I’ve read it, I’m thinking about how art can help me address my challenges with knowledge work!! Take a few minutes to read the article.

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Jul 29 2015

The Power of Ordinary Practices – Quotes Worth Amplifying

Well, this seems to be a fitting follow up to my last blog post.

Amabile: I believe it’s important for leaders to understand the power of ordinary practices. Seemingly ordinary, trivial, mundane, day-by-day things that leaders do and say can have an enormous impact. My guess is that a lot of leaders have very little sense of the impact that they have. That’s particularly true of the negative behaviors. I don’t think that the ineffective team leaders we studied meant to anger or deflate the people who were working for them. They were trying to do a good job of leading their teams, but lacked an effective model for how to behave.

So, I would say sweat the small stuff, not only when you’re dealing with your business strategy, but with the people whom you’re trying to lead. I would encourage leaders, when they’re about to have an interaction with somebody, to ask themselves: Might this thing I’m about to do or say become this person’s “event of the day”? Will it have a positive or a negative effect on their feelings and on their performance today?codrawing2

Amabile also calls out the rich, internal emotional lives that we all have, and how that influences our working together and collaboration.

One, people have incredibly rich, intense, daily inner work lives; emotions, motivations, and perceptions about their work environment permeate their daily experience at work. Second, these feelings powerfully affect people’s day-to-day performance. And third, those feelings, which are so important for performance, are powerfully influenced by particular daily events.

This again has resonance with last week’s #UdGAgora work where we explored the role of empathy in course design. The red threads are really showing up today. Maybe this will help me start pulling together a full post about The Agora. Alan has already started the “reflective ball” rolling.
Source: The Power of Ordinary Practices — HBS Working Knowledge

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Jul 29 2015

Hospital checklists and Inviting Participation

5429335563_ebe9be20dcJohnnie Moore pointed to an interesting article on why checklists don’t always produce the kind of positive results expected in hospital operating rooms.

I remember a few years back when I had major surgery. I had been rolled into the operating room. I was looking around and I commented on the team’s use of a checklist. They looked at me, surprised that I noticed. I said I’m interested in group process. With that, they gave me my anesthesia. I think one of the things on the list was to shut up talkative patients. :-) But I wondered, did the checklist make a difference for that team? It seemed like they were comfortable and well-practiced…

Outside of hospital operating rooms, where I have no expertise other than as patient, I’m fascinated by what sort of invitation gets people to engage with tools that can increase their individual and collective performance. It seems to me the invitation is as important as the checklist. Here is a related snippet from the article:

Dixon-Woods did identify one exemplary ICU, in which a high infection rate fell to zero after Matching Michigan began. The unit was led by a charismatic physician who championed the checklist and rallied others around it. “He formed coalitions with his colleagues so everyone was singing the same tune, and they just committed as a whole unit to getting this problem under control,” says Dixon-Woods.

I don’t think the intention here is blind lock-step and I cringed a bit at “singing the same tune.” What I do think matters is that people understand the value of something they are asked to do, and that leadership walks the talk. That starts with an informed, intelligent invitation to participate. Not blind obedience. Not “because you have to.” And the ability to critically question an invitation, checklist or whatever, because in complex settings, not everything is predictable.

I’m currently reflecting on the last two weeks where a team of us co-facilitated 2 rounds of a week long learning experience for professors at the University of Guadalajara system in Mexico. (More to come on that.) I suspect where we created warm, intelligent INVITATIONS to experiment with mobile technologies for engaged teaching and learning, we had more professors “accept,” dive in and learn. Where we focused too much on content, we started to lose people. Interesting, eh?

Source: Hospital checklists are meant to save lives — so why do they often fail? : Nature News & Comment

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Apr 03 2015

Collaborating for Impact in Large Development Organizations

km4devimage1What feels like a long time ago and far far away, Rachel Cardone of Red Thread Advisors, Aldo de Moore of Community Sense and I decided to wrestle with some questions that were cropping up across our diverse work. We kept having clients say “we want to collaborate with our distributed teams,” and “what software should we buy.” Time and again, we saw so many of these initiatives fizzle out. It was our sense that we needed to look at the problem differently, with an appreciation for complexity and the diverse contexts across large international development organizations.  That really interesting things were happening on the edges, but they didn’t seem to penetrate deeply into the organizations.

Thanks to some support from IFAD (thanks, Helen!), we had some seed money to begin thinking together, along with friends/volunteers from five development organizations (listed below). What resulted is the following paper from the KM4Dev Journal.

Learning 3.0: collaborating for impact in large development organizations

Nancy White, Rachel Cardone, Aldo de Moor


This discussion paper builds on the body of research and practice about technology stewardship originally explored in Digital Habitats, and on the findings from an initial probe into the experiences of five development agencies using collaboration platform technologies. The probe was conducted from September 2013 through February 2014. We propose a framework for looking at productive practices in selecting, configuring and supporting use of collaboration technologies in international development organizations by focusing on the opportunities that exist in the boundaries between different parts of a development organization and different kinds of interactions that lead to learning and development impact. We suggest that there is a very useful opportunity to expand this initial probe using collaboration pattern language and a complexity lens to develop a useful repertoire of technology stewarding practices for collaboration in international development with the goal of supporting greater impact of development work.

via KM4Dev Journal.

This snippet gives a bit of the context for the action learning agenda:

We worked with key staff from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Oxfam International, German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), the World Bank Institute, the UN Development Programme (UNDP – special thanks to the ever enthusiastic Johannes Schunter!), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Our objective was to determine if common patterns or dynamics exist across international development organizations that could suggest models, approaches or methods organizations could use to increase value for money when making investment decisions in support of collaboration. We drew on the collective experience of our action research partners, and our own experiences working to establish, advise and manage collaboration technology platforms. Through a series of discussions, we developed an analysis of the contextual factors relevant to the international development sector.

You can find the full text PDF here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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