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51 Activities for Collaborative Management

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Organizations everywhere are facing the challenge of how to work more closely with one another. This collection of ready-to-use activities will help you better understand the concept of collaborative managementâ€_a term used to describe an ideal work environment where everyone is dedicated to achieving a common objective. In 50 Activities for Collaborative Management, you'll find an array of dynamic and engaging exercises to help you explore what makes collaborative management work, its potential benefits and how to experience them in your organization. Each exercise highlights a specific aspect of collaboration. With each exercise, you'll get everything you need to bring it to lifeâ€_including a purpose, description, time to allot, presentation tips and debriefing statement. The book is ideal for trainers and managers who are looking for creative ways to: Reduce the risk in decision-making; Bring different perspectives and expertise into the decision-making process; Instill ownership in decision-making; Eliminate finger pointing and the ñblame gameî. Designed as a unique way to bring people together, 50 Activities will elicit the best from all those involved in making decisions and solving problems.

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ACTIVITY 1: Understanding Collaborative Management

PDF

ACTIVITY 1:

Understanding Collaborative Management

Purpose

To help participants better understand the concept of collaborative management

Description

Participants are presented a written description of collaborative management and are asked a number of questions to stimulate thought and understanding of this concept.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Handout 1.1

Presentation

1. Distribute a copy of Handout 1.1 to each participant.

2. To stimulate discussion, ask the following questions and encourage participants to express different viewpoints:

Do you agree with the definition of collaboration presented?

What do you think was meant by the statement, “Collaborative management is not a cure for all the interpersonal problems between employees and should not be utilized as such”? (The point is that the cause of these types of problems or issues must be addressed specifically and collaboration cannot be expected to be a “cure all” for all of the problems that currently exist in the organization.)

Do you agree that any inefficiency created by collaboration will be regained by the results that collaboration can create? Why or why not?

 

ACTIVITY 2: Thinking Collaboratively

PDF

ACTIVITY 2:

Thinking Collaboratively

Purpose

To help participants better understand how collaborative thinking is different than individual thinking

Description

Participants are asked to discuss a problem or issue collaboratively and then to discuss the collaborative thinking process as a group.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

None required other than a private meeting room or area in which each group of participants can discuss the assignment presented by the facilitator

Presentation

1. Introduce the concept that collaborative thinking can become the norm in a work environment that nurtures such a management system. People as well as organizations must learn to respect the collaborative knowledge that can exist if tapped and utilized.

Collaborative thinking and opinions must be recognized and given the credence and respect deserved. The old adage that “two heads are better than one” must be the cornerstone of any collaborative management operating system.

2. Break participants into teams (three to five participants ideally, depending on the size of the group participating in the exercise).

 

ACTIVITY 3: Collaborative Collectiveness

PDF

ACTIVITY 3:

Collaborative Collectiveness

Purpose

To introduce the concept of collectiveness as part of the collaborative process

Description

Participants are introduced to the concept of collectiveness and then explore its meaning further during the activity demonstrating differences between individual and collective thinking.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

Private meeting area for each group participating in this activity

Presentation

1. Explain the meaning of collectiveness as it relates to collaboration—the result of the collective opinions of those involved in the collaborative process:

Collectiveness reflects the diversity of opinions that can be brought into a situation through collaboration.

Collectiveness is clearly different than individualism. It is a multiple source data point influenced by a variety of opinions, viewpoints, concerns, etc.

2. Emphasize that the concept of collectiveness should be a guiding principle of any organization interested in creating a collaborative work environment.

 

ACTIVITY 4: Conventional vs. Collaborative Cultures

PDF

ACTIVITY 4:

Conventional vs. Collaborative Cultures

Purpose

To illustrate the differences between a collaborative and a conventional work culture

Description

A brief description of both a conventional work environment in which decisions are typically made from the top leadership of the organization and a collaborative work environment in which decisions are discussed with those most knowledgeable on the subject are presented for participants to review and discuss the differences.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

Handout 4.1

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by pointing out that there are different work or organizational cultures that exist. It is not so much a matter of right or wrong concerning what culture is the most appropriate for a particular organization; rather, it is important to appreciate that there are a number of factors that create and support any particular organizational culture that are usually not easily or quickly changed.

2. Distribute a copy of Handout 4.1 to each participant or to small groups of participants

 

ACTIVITY 5: Collaborative Showstoppers

PDF

ACTIVITY 5:

Collaborative Showstoppers

Purpose

To help identify those factors that must be present (or not present) in an organization in order for collaboration to be successful

Description

A list of collaborative showstoppers is introduced in the activity, each of which, if present, could have a detrimental effect on any collaborative initiative that might be introduced in an organization.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Handout 5.1

Flipchart

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that there may be certain factors that exist in an organization that prevent collaboration from existing:

Understanding these factors is important to the successful implementation of any collaborative effort.

2. Participants need to determine if these factors can be overcome or not:

There may be certain factors that exist in an organization that cannot be overcome

(at least not in the short term), preventing successful collaboration to exist.

3. Present Handout 5.1 (distribute copies or project on screen) and encourage discussion on each showstopper.

 

ACTIVITY 6: Collaborative Influencers

PDF

ACTIVITY 6:

Collaborative Influencers

Purpose

To illustrate how certain influencers can affect a collaborative process

Description

Participants are given a statement to discuss and are asked what influenced the collaborative process and conclusions.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

None required

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that even collaborative processes are influenced by certain factors:

These influencers are not necessarily good or bad to the process, but do exist and should be understood.

You need to ensure that the collaborative process truly reflects opinions of everyone involved in the process.

2. Have participants break into groups of five to seven people or similar groupings.

3. To demonstrate the suggestive power of collaboration, ask the groups to discuss the following statements and to come to a consensus concerning their collaborative opinion on this statement:

Decisions should be made at the lowest level possible in an organization.

4. Each group should briefly report on their final decision.

 

ACTIVITY 7: Opinion Leaders

PDF

ACTIVITY 7:

Opinion Leaders

Purpose

To illustrate the influence that opinion leaders have on any collaboration process

Description

The activity involves a discussion on opinion leaders and their influences—both positive and negative—on collaboration.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

Handout 7.1

Presentation

1. Define what is meant by an opinion leader. An opinion leader is someone who, by virtue of position, reputation, personal characteristics, expertise, experience, training, education, reputation, etc., can strongly influence other people’s thinking and decisions.

2. Introduce the activity by explaining that opinion leaders can have both a positive and a negative influence on the collaborative process.

3. Discuss the role that opinion leaders play in the process. In many group settings, everyone will defer to an opinion leader to take the lead role in the process. Often, the discussion is not among the group, but rather directed to the opinion leader. There can also be more than one opinion leader in a group, if other members of the group are perceived to have one of the criteria mentioned above that would qualify them as opinion leaders to the others in the group.

 

ACTIVITY 8: Over-Approvals

PDF

ACTIVITY 8:

Over-Approvals

Purpose

To discuss how collaboration can and should affect the approval process in an organization

Description

This activity involves a discussion about the way approvals are made in an organization.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

None required

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that a potential pitfall of the collaborative process is the potential to create a system requiring too many steps in the approval process.

Review the following:

Collaboration should not make the approval process more complicated.

The goal should be to make approvals more efficient because of the collaborative effort involved.

Top management needs to be comfortable that the collaborative process yields better decisions that they can trust.

2. Ask participants to think about a situation in which there are or were too many approval levels required.

3. Discuss why this approval process was designed this way and how it could be corrected.

4. Relate these examples to how the collaborative process could be designed with too many approval levels required.

 

ACTIVITY 9: Collaborative Partnering

PDF

ACTIVITY 9:

Collaborative Partnering

Purpose

To highlight the relationship between collaboration and partnerships

Description

The differences and similarities between collaboration and partnering are reviewed and discussed during this activity.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

None required

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that collaboration can create partnerships. Similarly, partnerships can create collaboration.

2. Discuss with participants the distinction between partnership and collaboration.

3. Ask participants what they believe is the difference or distinction between partnerships and collaboration, understanding that they may have difficulty distinguishing between these two definitions. Suggest the following as possible distinctions or differences between these two concepts:

Partnership: affiliation, association, alliance, joint venture, enterprise

Collaboration: teamwork, group effort, relationship, cooperation

In either case, mutually dependent relationships are created. Collaborative partnerships are even stronger.

 

ACTIVITY 10: Testing the Collaborative Waters

PDF

ACTIVITY 10:

Testing the Collaborative Waters

Purpose

To assess an organization’s readiness to collaborate

Description

Participants complete a Collaboration Readiness Questionnaire (CRQ).

Time

45 minutes

Resources

Handouts 10.1 and 10.2

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that sometimes it is important to “test the waters before jumping in head first” into any initiative:

You may want to test the “collaborative waters” in your organization before moving forward.

It may be best to gradually introduce collaboration before starting a more involved collaborative process.

You need to be patient with those who might not be used to working in a collaborative work environment.

2. Distribute a copy of Handout 10.1 to each participant.

3. Explain that the purpose of the CRQ is to provide a measure to better understand how receptive an organization might be to the introduction of collaboration.

4. Handout 10.2 provides a scoring guide for participants to tally an overall Collaboration

Readiness Score for their organization.

 

ACTIVITY 11: Ten Myths About Collaboration (and the Truth Behind Them)

PDF

Handout 11.1

The Ten Myths About Collaboration

Myth #1: Collaboration will be a panacea for all the problems in an organization.

Truth: Collaboration will not solve all of an organization’s problems, but can be an effective way to improve communication, teamwork, involvement, and problem solving, and increase trust in an organization.

Myth #2: Collaboration is a substitute for effective management.

Truth: Collaboration works best when it is combined with sound and effective management.

It is not a substitute for effective management. Effective management will always be needed in any organization.

Myth #3: Most people don’t want to be a member of a collaborative effort.

Truth: People do want to be involved in problems or issues that affect their employment and futures. People get frustrated if they are not asked for their opinions on subjects in which they have expertise.

Myth #4: Collaboration doesn’t need to be nurtured or need top management support.

Truth: Collaboration needs to have top management support to be successful. It can’t be a

 

ACTIVITY 12: “It Takes an Organization” to Collaborate

PDF

ACTIVITY 12:

“It Takes an Organization” to Collaborate

Purpose

To illustrate the need for the entire organization to support collaboration

Description

Participants are asked to review the various support systems necessary for collaboration to be successful in their organization.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Handout 12.1

Presentation

1. Begin the activity by explaining that collaboration can’t operate in a vacuum:

In other words, “it takes an organization” to collaborate.

Collaboration needs to be viewed as a core value to the organization.

Collaboration must be supported on all levels in the organization.

Collaboration needs to become “second nature” concerning the way the organization operates.

2. Distribute Handout 12.1 and review the support systems that are listed. Ask participants if these supports are necessary in their organization and why.

3. Ask participants to complete the handout by writing down what other support they believe their organization would need to successfully introduce and implement collaboration.

 

ACTIVITY 13: In Search of Collaboration

PDF

ACTIVITY 13:

In Search of Collaboration

Purpose

To identify ways in which collaboration can be identified in an organization

Description

Participants are presented with ways to identify whether collaboration presently exists in their organization.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Handout 13.1

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that collaboration can become like a “sixth sense.” In other words, you can just tell when there is a collaborative work environment:

There are certain signs or indicators that collaboration exists in an organization.

You might already be working in a collaborative work environment and not be fully aware of how much collaboration really already exists.

2. Distribute Handout 13.1 and review the seven signs of collaboration.

3. Ask participants how many of these signs might exist in their organization or work environment already.

Debrief

The point of the discussion is to identify parts or aspects of participants’ existing work environments in which collaboration already may exist and to contemplate how they operate differently and more effectively as a result of this collaboration that already exists.

 

ACTIVITY 14: Collaborative “Turn-offs”

PDF

ACTIVITY 14:

Collaborative “Turn-offs”

Purpose

To review some of the reasons why people may have negative perceptions or feelings about collaboration

Description

The facilitator leads a discussion concerning possible “turn-offs” to collaboration and why people might have these feelings.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

Handout 14.1

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that there may be certain things that might cause people to be “turned off” by the concept of collaboration:

These turn-offs are often based on erroneous or false beliefs.

These feelings or beliefs may be based on past negative experiences with collaboration rather than current issues.

These turn-offs can be addressed positively if the basis of these beliefs are understood.

It is important to listen to why people may feel the way they do to understand how they might be convinced to give collaboration another try.

2. Discuss with the group why people might be turned off by collaboration. The purpose of this discussion is to help participants better understand what “negative baggage” people in their organization may have as collaboration is introduced or reintroduced into the workplace.

 

ACTIVITY 15: The Reluctant Collaborative

PDF

ACTIVITY 15:

The Reluctant Collaborative

Purpose

To illustrate reasons why people might be reluctant to accept collaboration and how to deal with these perceptions

Description

A variety of reasons why people might be reluctant to embrace collaboration are presented for discussion in this activity.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Flipchart or white board

Presentation

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that not everyone will embrace collaboration:

Some people may be reluctant to participate in collaborative activities.

There are a variety of reasons why people may be reluctant to collaborate.

It is important to understand why people might feel this way.

2. Ask participants why they believe that some people might be reluctant to embrace or even accept collaboration. List possible reasons on a flipchart or white board.

3. In case the group is having difficulty identifying reasons why people might be reluctant to collaborate, suggest the following as possible reasons or examples:

Past experiences

 

ACTIVITY 16: Collaborative Consortiums

PDF

ACTIVITY 16:

Collaborative Consortiums

Purpose

To introduce the concept of a collaborative consortium (a collaborative consortium can be defined as a strong association or affiliation)

Description

This activity involves a discussion of the concept of a collaborative consortium and the potential benefits of this level of association.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

None required

Presentation

1. Begin the activity by explaining that a consortium is a group or an association.

2. Point out that collaboration can create these types of consortiums:

Collaborative consortiums:

ϖ

ϖ

ϖ

Can become very strong.

Take collaboration to a higher level.

Create strong interpersonal relationships among the members.

In collaborative consortiums, members learn to work together effectively.

They learn how to complement one another’s strengths and minimize weaknesses.

3. Ask participants to describe what factors should exist to create such a collaborative consortium.

4. Ask participants if they have ever been part of such a collaborative consortium and to share some of these experiences with the group.

 

ACTIVITY 17: Collaboration Essentials

PDF

ACTIVITY 17:

Collaboration Essentials

Purpose

To describe the essentials that are necessary for collaboration to be successfully introduced and supported in an organization

Description

This activity introduces the five essentials of collaboration.

Time

30 minutes

Resources

Handout 17.1

Presentation

1. Explain that there are certain essentials that must be present for collaboration to be successful:

Without these essentials present, a number of possibly preventable problems may exist.

Lack of these essentials could lead to reckless collaboration, which can be dangerous. Reckless collaboration is defined as asking people to work in a collaborative manner without first giving them the essential tools they need in order to be successful. These five essentials of collaboration represent the most important basic tools needed to collaborate successfully.

A group may take too great a risk believing that it is isolated from accountability—a variation of the idea of safety in numbers.

Reckless collaboration may be a result of unclear parameters or goals being established by the organization.

 

ACTIVITY 18: Finding Collaborative Common Ground

PDF

ACTIVITY 18:

Finding Collaborative Common Ground

Purpose

To demonstrate how differing positions or viewpoints may have commonalities that can lead to collaboration

Description

Participants are asked to identify a subject or issue that people have differing opinions about and then to identify as many common goals or objectives that might exist relating to this topic.

Time

40 minutes

Resources

Handout 18.1

Presentation

1. Begin the activity by explaining that often even opposing viewpoints on a topic or issue have many similarities or areas of common ground.

Disputes or disagreements can sometimes be mitigated by identifying and exploring these commonalities.

Even collaboration between individuals can be enhanced by gaining a better understanding of these shared objectives that already naturally exist.

2. In this activity, participants are to identify two different positions on a subject or problem that might exist in an organization (if a differing viewpoint or natural difference in position or situation in the organization is not already established or apparent). An example might involve something that has just changed in an organization. One viewpoint might be the reasons against the change, and the other viewpoint might be the reasons for the change.

 

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