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Collaboration Pattern #6: Working Concurrently


People often assume that work needs to happen in a linear, sequential way or that everyone needs have a say in all parts of the work. That not only slows down the work, it’s less productive and less engaging for participants, and it can silence diverse voices.


Working linearly and individually has its benefits but it's where collaborations often get stuck. In trying to break down and separate out parts of our analysis, for example, we lose the critical wisdom that diversity brings. Instead, we do shared analysis with everyone in the room in real-time, with everyone contributing their thinking and perspective.


And we'll often see folks artificially ordering work, like putting all the research and analysis before any action, not only losing the benefits of action learning, but creating a bottle neck for both the learning and the work. Instead, we'll form teams to advance different parts of the larger work simultaneously, sharing learning and coordinating their efforts as they go.

When generating ideas, you'll often see a few people in a group talking a lot and taking up a lot of space--that's why we start any brainstorming session with 5 minutes of silent brainstorming, allowing each person to generate and develop his her ideas (which is especially helpful for Introverts and Intuitives), then everyone shares and the group's thinking benefits from the rich diversity that's been generating.


And later, when we're prototyping the top ideas for advancing our work, why have just one prototype of an idea, in a process typically (again) being bottlenecked by 1-2 people? Instead, try having multiple teams prototype the same solution then draw out the best features from across the diverse prototypes to inform the next version.


To be sure, there are times with working linearly or having one or two people work alone makes sense, especially for editing materials or refining work, but we often undervalue the power of diverse groups working together in real time.


Working concurrently helps groups:

  1. Get more done, faster.

  2. Involve more hands in the work.

  3. Get better thinking from the whole group, not just a few.

  4. Build ownership and engagement.

For more details on each of the 6 Patterns in Collaboration, see below.

  1. Diverging & Converging

  2. Checking Back

  3. Leveraging Tensions

  4. Spiraling

  5. The Design Process

  6. Working Concurrently

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