Improve Group Trainings and Team Design Sessions with Discovery Colabs
The Art of Collaborative Design: Learn how to facilitate more powerful, generative meetings using this collaborative design process.
Discovery Colabs can be either physical or virtual and have nearly the same top level process configuration. However, the online tools used for a physical onsite session are quite different than those used in a virtual online session, which are described in a different presentation. Contact me for more information.
What is a Discovery Colab?
A Colab is a facilitated group experience specifically designed to create the necessary conditions for intensively creative and productive activity. It can be either physical, virtual, or both.
As implied in the name, Collab-oration refers to a group working together as a unified whole, rich in diversity, celebrating the variation in points of view, experiences, personality types, expertise and work styles.
The Lab-oratory component of Colab refers to an environment where participants can make discoveries and be highly creative. Underlying the entire design of the experience is the intention of creating a community of individuals who will work together as a coordinated whole for achieving a mutually created vision/goal.
The mechanics of a Colab involve a series of facilitated work sessions – all carefully crafted to build one upon the other and to foster intensely productive and creative insights, solutions, plans, etc. The outcome of each work session and, ultimately the outcome of the entire multi-day event, are a direct result of desired outcomes pre-specified by principals and stakeholders.
Benefits from Running Discovery Colabs
- You will greatly improve and accelerate the quality of your strategic, tactical, and operational aspects of business planning.
- You will generate a shared company vision rather than one that comes from only executive direction. This will allow you to more easily reach measurable goals because they are founded on common values that the entire team or company has selected.
- You will broaden your understanding of how to build and innovate within your organization in a more sustainable fashion.
- You will create a better understanding of what a triple bottom line business looks like, how it operates, and how to profit from it in many ways.
- A (w)holistic design of your organization will emerge that identifies all of its elements and shape it into a systemic, integrated, architectural whole.
The Primary Ingredients in a Discovery Colab
Below is a general definition of the future ‘scope of work’ that will be included within the actual proposal, to be presented at a later date.
Creating Your Own Colab, Retreat, or Collaborative Meeting – The Basic Steps
- Interview core team or primary decision-makers
- Establish first level needs and desired outcomes with core team
- Create list of stakeholders who will be present, along with commitment levels
- Design the Colab™ based on stakeholder list and desired outcomes
- Perform the Colab™ itself
- Develop a continuum of activities that build on your meeting outcomes.
What Happens Before The Colab?
Critical information that needs to come from the core team:
- Determine stakeholders, their commitments to the organization and level of participation
- Create and distribute a survey, used to assess stakeholder relationships and needs
- Complete an online values assessment (optional)
How much development time does a Colab require?
A typical Colab is structured into three parts – Pre, During, and Post. The ‘Pre’ period is a time for gathering information. The ‘During’ period is the actual Colab event itself. The ‘Post’ period is the time when outcomes turn into delivered activities and is crucial for a Colab’s success. It is often where focus fades and breakdown occurs. The facilitator’s job is just as important during this time. As a rule of thumb, each actual Colab event day requires about two to four man-hour days of development time.
The CoLab Group Experience
The word “Colab” represents two vital aspects of a facilitated group experience:
- Laboratory: A place to make discoveries, to uncover important truths, together with those who are your community.
- Collaboration: Working together as a unified whole – rich in diversity – celebrating variation in points of view and creativity – all coordinated for achieving a mutually created vision or goal. You will need to:
- Choose or create a “workspace experience” where things will get done.
- Facilitate a series of experiences (or work sessions) crafted to build one upon the other that will allow for creative insights, clear plans, and productive solutions to emerge.
- Recognize that the outcome of each work session, and ultimately the entire multi-day event, is a direct result of pre-specified expectations that you determine collaboratively with company principals and stakeholders.
- Knowledge capture: We document key information during the Colab event using various content mapping methods to capture the essence of insights and activities that emerge during your CoLab event. These materials will be made available online as an essential resource for post Colab developments (otherwise known as the “Continuum”).
What might a one to three day Colab look like?
- Day One (From Passion to Envisioning) – Determine WHY are you are doing this?
- Create stakeholder values alignment
- Establish a values synthesis to help shape a common vision
- Craft an integrated mission with the vision
- Use storytelling to develop a company ‘value proposition’
Outcomes: Core values and vision shared by the organization and stakeholder community
- Day Two (From Vision to Goals) – Determine WHAT you want to achieve?
- Expand your understanding of Six Point Architecture ™ for purpose of broadening group’s perspective
- Go through a second iteration of the first day’s value proposition in light of the Six Point Architecture
Outcomes: Develop the organization’s highest level goals and how it will be organized
- Day Three (From Goals to Actionable Strategy) – Determine HOW you are going to do it?
- Develop critical strategic paths
- Isolate responsible parties for each discrete project. Determine who does what, when, where, how?
Outcomes: Timeline of milestones, critical steps, resources needed, and responsible people
Virtual (or online) Portion of a CoLab
Document key information during the Colab event using various content mapping methods to capture the essence of insights and activities that emerge during your Colab event. Make these materials available online as an essential resource for post Colab developments and continuation.
Ensure that the agreements, ideas, discussions, wisdom, knowledge, learning, skills and memories, etc, are preserved in a format that allows for continued development and evolution. The outcomes of the event need to be a web-based synthesis, put into a storybook form, that shows the generation of the Colab including: graphic imagery, all white board notes, group creations, vision and strategic outcomes, and videos and audios of key Colab sessions. Graphic recordings of meeting minutes with real-time graphic representations of discussions, ideas, agreements.
How To Design The Colab Process
- Assist in the development of creating a core team. With the core team, interview key stakeholders to determine your desires, requirements, and anticipated outcomes. We can provide you with guidance on how to develop a process that accelerates you toward the achievement of needed action and desired outcomes.
- Review your company’s existing documents/content (vision, strategies, stakeholder lists, etc.) looking for specific actions that you’d like to achieve and then incorporate them into the Colab experience so that those projects/actions can be moved forward and even completed. For example, if you need a feasibility study done, make that one of the activities that the collective group creates; right down to the responsible people, milestones, and resources that are needed.
- Here are a few essential aspects for consideration while you are crafting your Colab into a customized experience:
- Colab logistics
- Dates and number of days
- Stakeholder enrollment; number of participants what days
- Venue: location, overnight needs, pre-event room access, meeting times,bathrooms, parking, catering, handicap access, music, sound, room configuration,chairs, tables, whiteboards (existing, ours), etc.
- Anticipated budget required (Colab plus venue, number of days)
- Commitment dates
- Colab investment objectives
- How will you justify cost?
- What is the desired return on your investment?
- What are the key performance metrics or milestones?
- CoLab design principles
- Common ground and values
- Company identity through storytelling
- Triple bottom line perspectives
- Harvesting information that informs decision-making
- Developing a self sustaining company learning system
- Look for innovation via integration of the whole-system
After the Colab … Follow Through!
It is suggested that you get commitment from your group for its ongoing success by setting up customized quarterly reviews, secondary sessions, online collaboration tools, extended organizational and business modeling, coaching, and/or outside council. We will help you design a program that works.
Discovery CoLab Deliverables
To ensure that the agreements, ideas, discussions, wisdom, knowledge, learnings, skills and memories, etc, are preserved in a format that allows for continued development and evolution. Make your event outcomes web-based with the primary objective of synthesizing your work. Going through a synthesis process is where you gain huge results.
Put your outcomes into a storybook form that shows the generation of the CoLab™ including: graphic imagery, all white boards notes, group creations, vision and strategic outcomes; videos and audios of key CoLab™ sessions. Graphic recordings of meeting “minutes” with real-time graphic representations of discussions, ideas, agreements.
What kind of follow up?
Be committed to your ongoing success by providing regular reviews, secondary sessions, online collaboration tools, extended organizational and business modeling, coaching, and council as needed for your team members.
I can teach you how to run your own ‘Discovery Colab’ meetings by having me facilitate your next collaborative design session or team meeting.
Contact Vic by email for more information.