Monday, 3 March 2014

7 principles of engagement and creative collaboration

Here is a great example, from Annemarie Borg and the Antara Project, of how software can help you engage and connect with people:

https://soundcloud.com/antara-1

There a six key principles at work here:

  1. It is easy for people to make comments (they can do so as they listen).
  2. People can post comments individually and without interruption.
  3. All comments, however brief, are acknowledged and visible.
  4. The maker of the content is open to and welcoming of all comments.
  5. It is easy to share the content and the comments.
  6. The content (in this case the music) has an overall vision or message that is appealing to listeners and which encourages them to make comments.    

Making participation easy, providing individual space for people to consider and make their contributions, being transparent, welcoming all comments, making it easy to spread the message and providing an inspiring vision are all essential for effectively engaging with people and encouraging them to participate. This is true for not only software but also face-to-face and other means of interaction.

To progress from engagement to creative collaboration it would be conceivable to add a 7th key principle, that of widened ownership. Visitors to the above website could be invited to 'play'  with the music, to rearrange and remix it in all manner of creative and surprising ways. People could then make comments on these new versions in the same way as for the original. 

This process would get complicated, with many 'owners' of many versions (true collaboration is always complicated in one way or another), but it would also lead to the generation of a great many rich and diverse ideas, none of which would be lost and all of which could be learnt from and built upon.

As with the first six principles, widened ownership can be applied through not only software but also face-to-face and other means of interaction (i.e. by sharing our information, original ideas or concepts with people during a workshop or strategy meeting). It is, however, the most challenging principle to apply; it is counter  to the prevailing human culture of ownership and our deeply ingrained, almost instinctive need to possess things.

But if we can be patient, dampen down our egos and recognise that anything we create has a life of its own (a life that others will seek to share and influence), we will likely be delighted by the rich diversity of ideas that emerge, ideas from which the many rather than the few will profit.

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