Of collaboration and expertise

percolab is driven by a desire to develop our capacity to collaborate – collaboration within work teams collaborative initiatives, collaborative governance. Diana Leafe Christian is an international expert on collaboration of a particular kind – collaborative living. She has spent the past 20 years researching what helps intentional living communities function effectively and harmoniously.

Diana was in Montreal on March 5th 2014 (via les Artisans du changement – merci Jean-Luc Henry!), for lunch and a conference. I came to the lunch with a simple question – What wisdom does the movement of collaborative living have that can be helpful for collaborative initiatives and collaborative work in general? I am interested in the transversality.

Diana reminds us that we have as much to learn from communities that don’t work as communities that work (« communities that drive people crazy »)– she has spent years capturing that throughout the world. Today, she is driven to share that knowledge with others so that more and more communities may be « wildly successful » and good to live in. You can tell she has been privy to so much suffering created by dysfunctional communities, communities that lose their energy to disruptive members or struggle to implement helpful group process. She speaks of a need to simply lower our expectations towards groups and accept that there will always be disruptive moments/members – she sheds the light on the importance of facilitators who courteously and rapidly cut disruptions before they can gather wind – allowing the group to pursue its work. She is full of such simple knowledge and helpful mechanisms. Three tools have been particular useful in her experience:  Sociocracy, Non-violent communication and Restorative circles. She reminds us how people new to the field of collective living bring with them many idealistic notions that are in fact counter to the success of community living, indeed some naive ideas that actually generate suffering.

Interestingly enough this leads us to a conversation how do we host events that both honor the expert and an expert’s useful field tested information gathered over many years on one hand and on the other, honor the desire for all the participants to think through their own processes, be interactive and in community. It is a challenge of collaboration we meet all the time. A question that I live in and that it is important to experiment around.

The Montreal Art of Hosting community will be hosting a day of practice and reflection around this collaboration question/challenge on Saturday April 12th (from 2 pm to 6 pm at ECTO.coop). We will all be developing our expertise as learners. 🙂

For more information on the event and Diana’s wise tips: http://www.dianaleafechristian.org/

Photo by Renaud Bertrand (CC-BY-NC)

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