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June 23, 2004 Workshop Summary #33    (2KG)

TITLE: Organizing Around Networked Communities of Practice to Improve the Dialogue between Government and Citizens to Deliver Citizen Centric Services.    (2KH)

PURPOSE: The workshop demonstrated an organizing process that can be employed anytime a purpose cuts across organizational boundaries.    (2KI)


The goal was a one-day demonstration of a purpose-centered organizing process, AIC, that helped to frame exploratory conversations between two Communities of Practice meeting each other for the first time and joined by other interested individuals. During the exploration, a number of insightful observations were made and are summarized below.    (2KK)




Part One    (2L4)

Susan Turnbull provided an introduction to the event and set the context from the perspective of the Collaborative Expedition workshop series. The baton was then handed over to Dr. William Smith who gave an eloquent opening speech. Subsequently, he invited each attendee to provide background information and their reason for attending this specific workshop. Afterwards, Dr. Smith gave an overview on the Strategic Leadership Network (SLN), and how to facilitate the collaborative “Incubator” process.    (2L5)

The structure of his presentation was quite eclectic and provided a refreshing spin on a much-studied topic. The main themes of this presentation were the ability to define an area of interest, listen to who is speaking, analyze/digest relevant data, and act in a way that provides value. The baton was subsequently handed over to Dr. Liz Davis who led the Assignment One portion of the event. The attendees were then randomly divided into five workgroups headed by a facilitator, which were given the task of solving various problems outlined in Assignment One that included 1) What is the major potential you see for improving the dialogue between Government and Communities? 2) Roles & responsibilities, sharing ideas, creating artwork that depicts the group’s collective sense of potential & realities, and the final presentation. Random choice allowed Dr. Davis to create diverse workgroups that were comprised of members of Academia, Government, and Private sectors, which brought different perspectives to the issues at hand. As a result, all five presentations were informative and well done. Regarding common themes, mindsets, policies & processes, and the leveraging of open-standards based technologies were echoed throughout each of the five presentations.    (2L6)

Part Two    (2L7)

Susan Turnbull provided an overview of the afternoon’s agenda, which included slated objectives and timelines. The baton was then handed over to Dr. Smith who gave an overview of The Nature of Influence that included core components such as Engaging in a Dynamic Process and Expressing our Thoughts and Feelings. The men and women interrelationship portion of his presentation was quite fascinating, and cast a new light on this topic of the ages. In essence, how men and women differ and how they work with each other. In addition, Dr. Smith stated that balance is the key and deciding factor. As logic would dictate, life in balance is far more preferable than koyaanisqatsi (life out of balance). All in all, a very insightful and useful perspective on the subject of the nature of influence. The baton was then handed over to Dr. Davis who led the Assignment Two portion of the event.    (2L8)

Part Two differed in that attendees had to “Market” themselves and ideas to real-time forming groups, rather than being randomly chosen by Dr. Davis. The attendees were then asked to jot down on newsprint their name and a title signifying priority, or issue they would most like to work on in the session. Subsequently, they moved to the “Market Place for Ideas” space at the rear of the room, to persuade others to join their efforts and form a team. Once a team had formed, the team facilitator asked each member to identify a priority that would be addressed in the group’s selected area, discuss and prioritize the most important factors that influence the priority, and or priorities, while identifying major stakeholders. The primary goal of this assignment was “connect the dots” to form a cohesive workgroup message (Priorities & Stakeholders), which would be presented to the entire working group. As with Assignment One, the presentations were well done and informative. Regarding a common theme, the “Knowledge Base” echoed throughout each of the five presentations.    (2L9)

Part Three    (2LA)

The attendees were given the task by Dr. Davis of solving various problems outlined in Assignment Three that included 1) What is the highest level of purpose you can purse given your current responsibilities? 2) Who, of the other participants, can you work with who shares similar responsibilities? 3) Join with them to develop your own plan of action. Subsequently, a number of partnerships were formed as a result of this exercise. Afterwards, moderators from these partnerships expounded upon the benefits and “Next Steps” of these newly proposed alliances. Brand Niemann, Ph.D., EPA provided an update on the topic of Communities of Practice, including the Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice, also meeting that day. General priorities around Communities of Practice, ontologies and Enterprise Architecture (EA) were discussed. Susan Turnbull closed the event by thanking the keynote speakers and attendees and noting dates for future Collaboration Expedition Workshops.    (2LB)

Bottom Line    (2LC)

After the “.com bubble-bust”, most current corporate or private sector workshops have focused on the subject of return on investment (ROI). While important, this methodology represents only a small portion of the big picture. Too many of these “High-Pressure” workshops produce little or no value. For example, how many times have we heard workgroup facilitators expound upon the same solutions regarding ROI by cutting back on employee essentials (e.g., coffee, medical benefits, etc.). In this sense, Collaboration Expedition Workshop #33 breaks new ground, by creating a relaxed and fertile environment that is made up of people from diverse skill sets and backgrounds solving complex problems. On all accounts Collaboration Expedition Workshop #33 was a qualified success, which is a testament to the organizers of this fine event. In a nutshell, better physical and virtual collaborative environments will improve bi-directional information exchange between interested parties (e.g., citizens, government, partners, etc,) at the local, state, national, and international levels. These types of efficient environments will ultimately help mitigate discrepancies and disputes, while fostering better long-term relationships between interested parties.    (2LD)

Draft Title for August 17 Workshop #34    (2LE)

Advancing Public Dialogue and Public Services: The Emerging Role of Communities of Practice (CoPs) and their Dynamic Knowledge Repositories    (2LF)