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3. About 'We'

3. About 'We'

Before we scale up to massive numbers of collaborators, it's important to ensure a healthy collaboration with the people who are here right now.

Here is a list of some of the useful patterns, frameworks and approaches we've used to facilitate [[node:506|consonance]] within a group.

[[node:519|Resource collaboration adequately]]

Too often we rush collaboration. It takes time to develop consonance. If collaboration is central to your mission, you need to take time with it.

Assess consonance in the group

Start by getting a sense of just how well positioned your group is for collaboration, by working through the consonance framework. Is the vision truly shared? By whom and to what degree? How do you know? How can you test that?

Collaboration as shared capability

Collaboration, by its nature, is something that cannot be effectively learned and practiced alone. Two individuals who have successfully collaborated in past contexts, even those who see themselves as collaboration experts, may struggle to collaborate with each other.

Every new collaboration requires attention to building collaboration capability with the unique group that is at hand.

Shared Understanding: Define context and common terms

Spend time identifying the most critical concepts, and explicitly laying down definitions for them. Just working through these terms will lead to broader conversations about the context you are operating in. Taking time to do this task will save time later, because participants will be able to more effectively communicate their ideas in a way that everyone will understand.

The challenge here is to keep participants from jumping into solution mode, and to stay focused on building a shared mental model.

Define collaboration

If collaboration is part of what you are doing, then you'll need to define it. The [[node:509|3 C's definition]] is one of the only robust definitions out there, and should be a reference, but ultimately it's about finding a definition that works for you.

[[node:589|Roles in collaboration]]

In an envisioned mass collaboration, there are often a lot of people involved. One simple way to think about this is to divide the participants in a mass collaboration into three levels. Each level is about ten times bigger than the previous one.

  1. (10) Collaborators: Those who are actively cocreating the strategy, tending to the platform, and making the system work for everyone else
  2. (100) Contributors: Those who add value to the system, but don't necessarily concern themselves with how the system works
  3. (1000) Followers: Those who read, watch, and generally benefit from the collaboration, but don't necessarily add any value

This structure isn't the same for every mass collaboration, but gives you an idea of how to think about the different roles that participants play.

Double-sided value proposition

Often organisations that want mass collaboration to happen, focus on the value they will obtain from "the community" collaborating, but not on the value for participants.

A simple exercise of mapping the value for each side can help clarify whether you've got a proposition that anyone will take up.


Sometimes there's simply not enough time to collaborate on everything. How do you give everyone an equal chance to contribute, and not revert to old top-down decision modes?

Let some subset of the group create a 'strawdog' of the strategy or product. This is something which is intended to catalyse responses from participants, and get them into a collaborative mindset. Since it's just a strawdog, there's no risk in tearing it apart and putting it back together again.