April 2, 2018

We don't strive to be different in our approach to collaboration, yet people are often surprised by the counterintuitive approaches we take. After all, collaboration is fairly straightforward, right? You just decide on a topic, get people in a room, and have them talk...

May 2, 2017

When it comes to people’s approaches to collaboration, there seem to be three general schools of thought:

  1. The “Collaboration-is-a-giant-mess-and-you-should-just-decide-what-to-do-and-then-convince-people” school, with adherents who believe that collaboration is a me...

May 2, 2017

We spiral all the time at CoCreative.

No, that doesn’t mean we’re losing it, or stressed out.

It means we are constantly sharing, socializing, testing, and shaping our thinking and goals with others, expanding our circle of connections over time to build growing consensu...

May 2, 2017

For any network we convene, we have found a simple but powerful pattern that helps increase ownership and prevent unproductive conflict (as opposed to productive conflict, which we want!). We call it “Focus & Frame.”

Imagine you take a photo of a friend. If you take the...

May 2, 2017

Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and you think that the group is really starting to realize something that they hadn’t understood before, and then the facilitator suggests moving on to deciding next steps? If so, you know that feeling of being ripped off, as if...

May 2, 2017

Design Tensions are natural features of collaboration. They appear anytime people try to work together—and the more complex and difficult the challenges, the more powerfully they show up.

These tensions (often called “polarities”) are comprised of two values that seem t...

May 2, 2017

We use what we call "Critical Shifts" all the time in our work. They are the most effective and inclusive way we’ve found to help a group define the “problem space” (the space in which a solution needs to be developed) before jumping to generating ideas and making solu...

April 13, 2017

We turn difficult underlying tensions and conflict into resources for deep collaboration and innovation. Watch this keynote at the 2012 Systems Thinking in Action conference with our colleague Cliff Kayser of Polarity Partnerships for some insights into one of the many...

March 19, 2017

[Here for the Roadmap?
Download it here.]

On a rainy spring day last April, I was sitting at my desk having an intense phone conversation with a frustrated young woman. She had been working for months to organize a collective impact initiative in her community, and stil...

March 19, 2017

People often ask how I came to do the work that I do today. I usually say, “I had no plan. I just wanted to learn about a lot of things, I love people, and I wanted make a difference, and so I ended up doing what I do.”

Not the most helpful reply, I admit, but true at l...

February 17, 2017

“Systems that strive for stability decay, and those living at the edge of chaos thrive.”

-- Dean LeBaron, in the forward to 

The Emperor's Nightingale by Bob Monk

Traffic is one of the most fascinating systems on the planet. It has qualities of fluid dynamics and complex...

November 9, 2016

Here's a kit of simple tools that we often use to help minimize resistance and polarization in groups so they can get and stay aligned in the work and collaborate effectively.

Try these out, and let us know how they work for you!

1. Put How before If

Sometimes, making a c...

October 1, 2015

 In a recent article on Tamarack Institute's website, we shared 3 Tools and 3 Tips for Assessing Your Operating Model.

Sometimes, things just don't feel right in collective impact initiatives. If you feel that way about your own initiative, it might be time for a che...

October 1, 2015

It was the fall of 1998 and Deborah Momsen-Hudson had a problem. As vice president of investor relations at Self-Help Credit Union, she was responsible for ensuring a reliable supply of capital for Self-Help’s community development lending programs across the state of...

September 14, 2011

How do today’s leaders create profound innovation in the face of complexity? According to an executive report by the IBM Institute for Business Value, they do it by “embracing dynamic tensions.”

In a study released in July 2011, “Cultivating Organizational Creativity in...

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April 2, 2018

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