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1. Overview and Getting Started

1. Overview and Getting Started

Collaboration, in its simplest terms, is when people work together to create something new. Some of the main reasons we collaborate are:

  1. It's awesome: Working with other people feels good
  2. More is possible: There are some things we simply can't do on our own, or by issuing orders
  3. More support: People are more likely to get behind something they helped make

At the same time, collaboration is hard. It can seem slow, it requires compromise, and the challenges only seem to increase when you ad more people.

Nevertheless, collaboration can be learned, and it can be purposely designed and enabled. That's what Epic Collaboration is all about.

About the Level Up Handbook

The Level Up Handbook is designed to provide a pathway into the many complex capabilities that come together to make collaboration happen. It provides a simple overarching framework to help bring together the many diverse threads of knowledge that Epic Collaboration contains.

Each of the following sections unpacks a key aspect of collaboration capability, and provides pointers to deeper resources.

  1. Overview and Getting Started: (the current section) Outlines key themes for the handbook
  2. About 'Me': What Collaboration means for the individual
  3. About 'We': Supporting collaboration in a defined group
  4. Scaling Up: Understanding how a collaboration grows over time
  5. Mass Collaboration: How the dynamics of a collaboration change at large scale
  6. Meta Collaboration: How collaborations can benefit by collaborating with each other

The Level Up handbook is currently curated by Collabforge and is largely based on the [[node:497|Collabforge approach to scalable collaboration]]. However, it is a perpetual work in progress, and we anticipate that over time it will be enriched by diverse knowledge from around the world.

Scaling is strategic

You can't jump to mass collaboration simply by building the right combination of online platforms and key messages. It's always the result of a small, committed core group that works strategically over time to build momentum.

The glue that holds the core together is strategy, whether implicit or explicit. The more strategically aligned the core, the more they are able to act indepently in service of the collaboration.

We use the [[node:506|Collaborative Consonance Framework]] to understand strategic alignment in a group.

Shared Understanding enables Shared Vision which guides Active Contribution to a Shared Plan and Shared Outcomes

This framework provides a simple way to understand the role of strategy within a collaboration. It also provides a means of assessing the level of 'consonance' or alignment among collaborators. The more the four elements are shared, the healthier the collaboration will be, and the more it will be able to resolve the 'dissonance' that is inevitably introduced when the collaboration scales.

Collaborating on your own collaboration

There is no one way to collaborate. Concepts like 'vision', 'strategy' and 'plan' mean different things to different groups, if they mean anything at all.

The purpose of this handbook is not to provide the one way to collaborate. Rather it's meant to show you how to develop your own way to collaborate, by showing you one set of frameworks and concepts that hang together nicely.

Thus, getting started requires a number of steps, before the actual 'doing' of collaboration begins:

  1. Understanding what collaboration is, and whether it's the right approach in your case
  2. Determining your approach to collaboration
  3. Defining the scope of your work, the specific opportunity or challenge

So as you work through, try to think about how the approaches being presented relate to the existing culture and work practices of your group, and how they might be gradually introduced.