Objectives Define collaboration as it relates to parent leadership and collaboration in a variety of settings Learn about the defining characteristics.
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1 ObjectivesDefine collaboration as it relates to parent leadership and collaboration in a variety of settingsLearn about the defining characteristics and principles of collaborationDefine the elements of an effective collaborative teaming processIdentify the stages of team development
2 The purpose of this module in collaboration is to introduce parent leaders to the critical elements of collaboration as identified in the literature. Specifically, the module introduces participants to the origins of collaboration, its underlying principles, and specific structures, processes, and practices that promote effective collaboration in team settings. Its goals are to establish a rationale for using collaborative practices and to help participants understand some of the basic principles and processes associated with effective collaboration in team settings. While collaboration occurs in many forms, this module assumes that parent leaders will be participating in teams that have a goal of using collaborative practices. In “real life,” however, collaboration does not always occur. This module is designed to help parent leaders learn how to lead in a collaborative way and/or to support groups in developing their collaborative skills.Essential QuestionsWhat are the origins of collaboration and collaborative teaming practices?How is collaboration defined in the literature and in practice?What principles form the foundations of collaboration?What structures, processes, and practices contribute to effective collaboration in a team context?
3 Agenda: Critical Elements of Collaboration Defining Collaboration (15 minutes)Metaphors for collaborationRationale and context for collaborationUnderstanding Collaboration (45 minutes)Underlying principlesFive essential elements for effective collaborative practiceStages of group development
4 Defining Collaboration: Metaphors for Collaboration In the metaphors for collaboration activity, participants are asked to begin thinking about the concept of collaboration by recalling two situations with which they have been involved where collaboration was supposed to be occurring. One of these is to be a positive example of collaboration, where the other is to be a situation in which collaboration was desired but not achieved. Participants are asked to think of and write down a metaphor or image for each situation. If needed, provide a context for potential metaphors, such as “something in a kitchen” or “something having to do with meal preparation.” Past participants have identified positive metaphors such as baking the perfect cake, creating a delicious meal with friends, or making a great salad. Negative images have included using a blender without the top, failing to have all ingredients for a meal, or trying to bake cookies without a recipe. Following the creation of metaphors, participants spend about 5 minutes sharing theirs with two to three other participants. Their task is to identify two metaphors that they agree best illustrate positive and negative examples of collaboration. Each group then shares their favorite metaphors with the group as a whole. As the instructor, you should record their responses on a large piece of flip chart paper. Try to highlight the similarities among their metaphors and reinforce the ways in which these help to define collaboration. Conclude this discussion by asking participants to give examples of situations where they would like to improve their own skills in collaboration or help a group improve its skills.Defining Collaboration: Metaphors for CollaborationThink about two situations in which you have participated where collaboration was supposed to occur. Think of one positive example, and one negative.For each example, think of a metaphor or image that describes this situation.Share your metaphor or image with one or two partners.Following your discussion, share your top 2 favorite metaphors with the whole group.
5 Understanding Collaboration The next step is for instructors to introduce and present a power point that outlines the elements of an effective teaming process. The power point may be printed as a handout so that participants can take notes during the presentation. The purpose of this presentation and discussion is to identify aspects of collaborative teaming processes that have been identified in the literature as effective for teams in a variety of settings. Some of these elements come from psychology ( Tuckman & Jenson, 1977), some come from education (see Johnson & Johnson, 1987), and some have been adapted for use by adult collaborative teams (see Friend & Cook, 2003; Thousand and Villa, 1992). In addition, authors in the “for-profit” world are also writing about collaboration (see Wheelan, 2005). In presenting these characteristics it is important to convey to participants that while not all teams exhibit every one of the characteristics or the level of group structures that are suggested, effective teams tend to possess at least some of the elements being discussed. It is important for participants to think about their own collaborative groups and to decide which elements of collaboration make sense for them. In addition, participants should be encouraged to think about ways in which collaboration may be defined or observed differently for team members from diverse cultures. As the instructor, you should encourage questions and dialogue as you show the power point. The power point can be shown in about 35 minutes, leaving about 10 minutes at the end for a wrap-up discussion.Understanding CollaborationThe power point that follows highlights some of the elements of collaboration that have been written about in the literature. This literature comes from the fields of psychology, education, social services, and more recently, the business world.
6 The power point presentation on slides 6 – 16 should be printed as handouts so that participants can take notes as they wish.Underlying Principles and Characteristics of Effective Collaborative Teams
7 I. Five Underlying Principles The principles presented in this slide highlight the assumptions and beliefs that are commonly found in effective collaborative teams. First, all team members need to be sure that they want to use collaborative practices as a way of working together towards a common goal. Second, all team members need to feel equally valued. If one or two team members hold all of the power or see their viewpoints as more valuable than others, collaboration will not occur. Third, effective collaboration assumes that all team members’ perspectives must be heard and that different points of view lead to better and more collaborative outcomes. Fourth, collaboration requires a strong sense of team purpose. Newly formed teams need to spend time talking about their purpose, how they plan to work together, and what they hope to accomplish. If they fail to do this, they are likely to experience difficulties later in the process. Finally, in order for collaboration to work, team members must trust one another and each must feel that he/she is responsible for the outcomes of the group.I. Five Underlying PrinciplesCollaboration:Requires that all team members want to work together towards a common goalIs based on a sense that all participants are valuedEmbraces the unique perspectives of all team membersIs based on a strong sense of purposeRequires trust and a sense of shared responsibility
8 Key Assumptions Teams must value diverse membership and ideas Each member has expertiseTeams must have a common purposeTeam members need to trust one anotherTrust allows members to share in decision-making and responsibility
9 II. Five Essential Characteristics This slide shows the five essential characteristics of collaboration. Each one represents specific ways in which collaborative teams are structured and function. As stated earlier, it is helpful to remind participants that not all teams– even effective ones-- will demonstrate all of the five characteristics. Still, it seems that the more characteristics that are in place on a team, the more likely it is to demonstrate effective collaboration. The next five slides expand on each one of the characteristics.II. Five Essential CharacteristicsFace-to-Face InteractionPositive InterdependenceInterpersonal SkillsMonitoring and Processing of Group FunctioningIndividual Accountability
10 Face-to-Face Interaction The term “face to face interaction” refers to the idea that while communication can take many forms, collaborative teams need to have some specific and regular times that they will meet together. This is especially important when teams are beginning to form, as they will need extra time for team members to get to know one another and to discuss basic ground rules and team processes. When team members choose a time to meet, they should be sure that it works for all members’ schedules and that members are going to remain committed to attending meetings at that time. The literature about collaboration talks about the ways in which group size can enhance or take away from effective face-face interaction. Most authors feel that a group size of 5 – 7 members is best, because members have opportunities to share their ideas, get to know one another and make decisions. Smaller teams may not have enough diversity and smaller ones may be cumbersome. For those who are participating on large teams (e.g., 20 or more), it may be helpful to suggest that these teams use a “core team” approach, in which a smaller team of 5 – 7 meets regularly and reports back to the larger group. Finally, teams need to decide what communication systems they will use to convey information when they are not meeting. Examples include phone calls, , written minutes that are distributed following each meeting, etc. Each of these strategies needs to be inclusive and take into account the different language and communication styles of team members. It is critical to note that team decisions need to be made during face-to-face meetings only, while other communication systems may be used to disseminate information.Face-to-Face InteractionRegular opportunities to meetMust be convenient for all membersAppropriate group sizeLiterature suggests membership of 5 – 7 is bestEffective communication systemsDecide how communication will occur between meetings (phone, , minutes, notebook, etc.)
11 Positive Interdependence “Positive interdependence” is defined as the sense that a group has a sense that “we are all in this together” or “we sink or swim together.” Groups that experience a strong sense of interdependence move from being groups of people to true teams. There are many ways to create a sense of positive interdependence, and the power point slide shows some of these. The first is to identify team goals and purpose. As mentioned earlier, collaborative teams need a sense of purpose that is understood by all and that helps to keep the group focused on its task. Second, groups can develop a sense of working together by distributing the leadership and other tasks of the team. Many teams use roles such as facilitator (the person responsible for helping the team work through its agenda), a recorder (the person who takes minutes and records decisions made as well as a “to do” list) and a time keeper (the person who monitors the group’s use of time in relation to the agreed upon time limits set for agenda items). It is important to note that many new teams will find it necessary to have a team leader to help the group start to work together; still, this person does not always have to facilitate meetings. In addition, the initial role of the leader is often faded over time as team members begin to take on a sense of shared ownership. Third, groups need to spend time discussing the scope of their work and the kinds of decision-making power they have. Teams that are clear about how much work they can do, what types of decisions they have the authority to make, and how their team functions in relation to its larger organization(s) tend to have a better sense of being a team. Finally, effective teams generally find that they feel a sense of connection through identifying ways to celebrate their accomplishments and having some fun. This happens through small things such as sharing food at team meetings, to larger celebrations such as a group outing or dinner together following the achievement of a goal.Positive InterdependenceIdentify team goals and purposeUse distributed leadership functionsRotate roles, share tasks and resourcesRoles: facilitator, recorder, time keeperDevelop a common understanding of the group’s scope of work and authoritye.g., ask: What kind of decision-making power does this group have?Identify common rewards and opportunities
12 The development of interpersonal skills among team members is essential for effective collaboration. Each member of the group must commit to developing and using a set of interpersonal skills that promote effective collaboration. Teams can set the stage for the use of good interpersonal skills by establishing group norms that identify the behaviors and expectations that group members have for one another. In general, group norms should be established when new teams are formed, although teams may find that they need to re-visit and update their norms from time to time. Examples of norms commonly used on collaborative teams include:We will start and end meetings on time.We will not interrupt one another.We will respect diverse points of view.We may judge ideas, but not people.We will strive for equal participation (e.g., equal talking time for everyone).We will promote creative problem solving and risk taking.We will tell people when we think their ideas are valuable.We will clarify decisions that have been made.In addition to establishing group norms, individual team members need to reflect on their strengths and challenges as team members. Each person needs to be responsible for their contributions, their utilization of the group norms, and the overall effectiveness of the team.Interpersonal SkillsDevelop group norms indicating desired behaviors/types of communicationExamples: arrive on time, respect diverse points of view, no judging during creative problem-solvingDevelop communication and conflict resolution skillsAll group members need to practice their best communication and collaboration skillsLearning to deal with conflict is key
13 Monitoring and Processing of Group Functioning A critical but often under-used aspect of collaboration is the practice of regular group reflection on the degree to which the team is adhering to its group norms and collaborative principles. Effective teams create specific times for group reflection that allow for a “safe space” for group members to comment on how well collaboration is occurring. Without the establishment of specific times for processing, it becomes difficult for individual team members to bring up challenging topics. There are number of ways to go about group processing. The strategies that follow identify some approaches to group monitoring and processing. These may be combined to create a comprehensive approach to group reflection.A five minute “processing time” that is built into each meeting in which each team member is asked to share their perspectives on the groups’ use of collaborative processes and/or the specific norms identified previously by the team.A slightly longer time (e.g., 15 minutes) that occurs once every few times that the team meets. Teams may wish to use the 5 characteristics of effective teams as a framework for discussing how the team is doing.Bi-annual or annual reviews of the teams accomplishments and functioning. Following an in-depth group review of the team, an action plan can be created to address any challenges that emerge.Some teams may go through very difficult periods where they feel “stuck” and unable to address their challenges and issues. When this occurs, it may be helpful to invite an outside facilitator who can guide the group through an in-depth process of reflection.Monitoring and Processing of Group FunctioningDevelop time and methods for regular processingRegular processing is key to the growth of the groupBest to conduct processing at the end of each meeting or on some other regular basis (e.g., once a month)It’s also good to take a deeper look one or two times per year
14 Individual Accountability Closely related to the four characteristics identified above is the idea of promoting a sense of individual accountability among all team members. Individual accountability is observed when each member of team takes responsibility for speaking up, contributing to group discussions and decision-making, praising the contributions of others, following through on identified tasks, and reflecting on the overall functioning of the team. A number of strategies can be used to promote individual accountability. These include:Using agendas with time lines for individual items, as a way to ensure that all team members monitor the length of discussion about particular items, and their length of their own contributions!Having a recorder take minutes and distribute them to the group prior to the next team meeting. The minutes do not have to capture every piece of information that was discussed, but they do need to highlight the actions that the group has decided to take, and the individual assignments of group members in relation to the identified action items. If group members know that the “to do” list will be reviewed at the start of the next meeting, they will be more likely to complete their assignments.Use strategies such as the rotation of team roles, praising of individual contributions, and celebration of group accomplishments that help to build a sense of responsibility among all team members.Individual AccountabilityUse agendasReview agendas at the start of meetings; add items and identify time to be spent on each itemUse minutes indicating action items and “to do” listsMinutes need to identify decisions that were made, and tasks to be completed by individual group membersIdentify strategies for building a sense of responsibilityRotate roles, share tasks, praise group and individual accomplishments, etc.
15 Collaborative Decision-Making Many collaborative teams encounter challenges around the process of decision-making. Most people agree that collaboration works best when consensus-based decision-making is used; however, teams need to be sure to clarify what consensus-based decision-making means and how it will be used. Ideally, discussions about decision-making occur when new teams are formed and/or when new members join, so that each person is clear about the process. For some teams, consensus-based decisions need full agreement, whereas other teams define consensus-based decision-making as meaning “I can live with that decision.” Team facilitators and recorders can help groups to clarify when decisions are being made by asking questions such as “Are we ready to make a decision on this point?” “What other issues do we need to discuss before we can make this decision?” “Can we clarify for the notes what decision has just been reached?” These types of questions will help the group distinguish between discussions and decision-making. Some teams find that certain situations call for the need for a vote. This can happen when the team has been debating an issue for a long time and the majority of the group wants to move ahead and with a decision that may not have the consensus of all members. This type of decision making process should be made clear to group members at the outset of the group’s formation and should be reserved only for the most difficult decisions.Collaborative Decision-MakingIdentify and Use Specific Decision-Making Processes:Consensus-based decision-making is most common in collaborative groupsSometimes consensus means deciding that “I can live with that”Democratic decision-making (i.e., voting) may be used when consensus cannot be reached, as long as the group agrees to this approach ahead of time
16 Final Thoughts on the 5 Characteristics of Collaboration This activity concludes with an open-ended discussion of the meaning of collaboration in relation to the experiences of group participants. The three discussion questions above can be used to bring closure to the module and to help participants think of ways to apply these ideas about collaboration in the future.Final Thoughts on the 5 Characteristics of CollaborationWhich of the ideas presented above make the most sense to you?Which elements have you found most challenging in your own experiences with teams?What have we missed in thinking about collaboration?