You’ve brought together the right organizations and people at the right time, to talk about critical issues and solve complex challenges, but do you have the necessary work styles to ensure the goals you create get accomplished?
During my facilitation and strategic planning work, I often get the opportunity to guide collaborative process where diverse stakeholders representing key organizations, interest areas, and communities come together. Conversations are rich with compelling ideas; consensus decision-making ensures that strategies are owned by participants; inevitable conflict is overcome by the trust that is built through a quality process. … it sounds like the table is set for success.
Just about, but not quite.
The work, often long and arduous and exciting, to implement the new strategy and vision is still ahead. It takes endurance, and the right work styles, to get it done. So what are the work styles necessary? Here are five we’ve identified.
The Influencer: This is often a person who actually doesn’t do the work but has a lot of respect and clout on the team. People genuinely trust the influencer’s opinion, not because they’ve been ‘sold’ something, but because the influencer has demonstrated that their ideas make sense and work. The influencer (and there might be more than one), gives credibility to the task at hand, reducing any anxiety and wonder about whether or not the new plan “is the right direction.”
The Convener: This role is probably more popularly know as the connector, but in terms of a collective strategy it is a role that must be played over and over again at each turn of the process or implementation. The convener carefully questions whether or not the right people are working together. The convener also takes the time to organize the meeting (managing logistics with ease matters a great deal), ensures that the influencers are engaged, makes space for leaders and participants to talk with one another, and manages the many side conversations, projects, and meetings that move the work forward.
The Catalyst: This tends to be someone with a work style that is detached from selfish motivations and is instead focused on holding the vision of the organization. The Catalyst is able to connect the dots for participants and can see the path forward. They often give the convener a heads-up about a key meeting that needs to happen, and they work with the facilitator (or as the facilitator), to guide the group towards consensus. The Catalyst has an innate sense for the nuanced steps it will take to achieve important decision-making.
The Long Distance Runner: We’re talking an ultra-marathoner here. This is someone who thrives in staying up late or waking up early to make sure the agenda is right, that emails are being sent, that websites and messaging are up-to-date, that the hard work is getting done, one step at a time. People might think of this as the ‘grunt,’ but the Long Distance Runner doesn’t grunt, they love the strain and stress of climbing mountains, the thrill of putting in the tough work that pays off. And their endurance (and their understanding of how to tap into that endurance), often inspires others to join the adventure. “If they can do it, I can contribute to.”
Wondering about the fifth work style? Send me a message! [This is absolutely not a marketing gimmick, it genuinely takes a conversation to explain and I would love to discuss it with you].
Collaborative processes are integral to the success of organizations, communities, and collective visions. Collaboration also ensures we’re making use of limited resources by not repeating the work of others or working towards a shared vision but doing so in opposition to one another. There are a lot of resources out there and tools to ensure we do this work well. But the formula is ever-changing, and is often evolving and adapting to the context of each process, so having the right work styles at the table matters. Are you set for success?