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Tuesday 25 June 2019

Secrets of successful collaboration: 21. make time and space for personal thought and reflection within the collaborative process

Collaborations require different types of time and space to be incorporated into their processes. The need for formal and informal time and space was previously dealt with here. In addition, collaborations need to ensure that their processes offer each partner time and space for personal thought and reflection. There are two reasons for this:
  1. To ensure collaborations benefit from each partner's unique expertise, experience, perceptions and insights, etc.: before offering ideas and other contributions that are likely to add value to and help progress a collaboration's work, each partner needs personal time to become familiar with the relevant context and compare and combine his/her expertise, experience and perceptions with those of others.     
  2. To ensure that relationships between partners are permissive and interdependent rather than restraining and cohesive: being willing and able to provide each other with some personal space (alone time) to think things through is one of the key foundations upon which mutually respectful and supportive relationships that accept difference are built; not being willing and able to provide each partner with the personal space to think things through is one of the key causes of mutually restrictive and demanding relationships that are intolerant of differences between partners.                  
Creating permissiveness and interdependence underpins the previously described characteristics of meta-relationships: it is the nutrient that feeds their growth. Two characteristics benefit from this nutrient particularly strongly: being tolerant of challenges to each other's long-held assumptions and preferred ways of doing things, and (because creating mutual trust and interdependence requires partners to work together closely and, as a consequence, get to know each other well) making decisions and taking action based upon knowledge based realism rather than assumption-based idealism.

Some collaborations have ensured there is time and space for personal thought and reflection by separating personal work from collaborative work: they have given each type of work defined time periods during the day or week and separate spaces where each can happen. 

The collaborative wiki approach does a similar thing: contributors can write and edit content privately and without interruption, with the process of collaborative peer review and comment following separately.

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