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Collaboration Pattern #3: Checking Back


Checking Back is about occasionally returning to "upstream" parts of our work to ensure that our current activities are aligned with our prior intentions and decisions, and at times, revising those earlier decisions to reflect our deepened intentions and new learning.


In collaborative innovation, nothing is set in stone. Even the most powerful goals can lose their power to inspire and focus the work over time and might need to be refreshed. That's one reason we treat every piece of the work--the goal, the analysis, the critical shifts (see below), even the composition of the network itself--as a working version, subject to evolution as we learn more.


Another reason for checking back is that we sometimes lose our way as we proceed to develop strategies, interventions, and solutions. At times, we've seen initiative groups working furiously to advance a piece of work that actually isn't really aligned with the critical shift they're supposed to be working on. Even more severe is when the analysis and work of an entire network starts drifting away from their stated goal. Whether the goal needs to change or the work needs to be realigned, we need congruence between our intent and our work--that's where the power lies.


In practice, this means regularly checking back along the way on the network’s:

  • Goal (Is this still the best expression of our shared intent?)

  • Scope (Do we need to expand or contract our scope?)

  • Analysis (Have we learned new things that should inform our analysis?)

  • Membership (Based on what we know now, do we have the people we need to do this work?)

For more details on of each of the 8 Patterns in Collaboration, see below.

  1. Critical Shifts

  2. Diverging & Converging

  3. Checking Back

  4. Creative Tensions

  5. Focus & Frame

  6. The Design Squiggle

  7. Working Concurrently

  8. Spiraling

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