Category: Collaboration


Recently I was on a Dissertation committee where the candidate proposed an action research study that would among other things, involve training fellow music teachers in using and collaborating about evaluating music teachers’ “effectiveness” in their instruction via a Moodle approach.

The proposal was excellent and has much, much promise for teachers on “non”-academic subjects as they will also be responsible for showing student “growth” by requirement of the New York State Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). His dissertation defense few months later was beyond terrific.

In the beginning though , I  was more than a little bit skeptical about the training-of-colleagues component with the Moodle. Moodle is an open source wiki-like Web 2.0 approach. A wiki site if you have never used Wikipedia as an example,  is a site that enables its members to add to, elaborate, and create new information for that site for the rest of its viewers.

This soon-to-be- Ed.D’s premise was that the Moodle would be a source to its participants in shaping how they might incorporate the online rating system that he had developed. It would also serve as a training platform so that participants could learn how to both use the Moodle and to implement the rating system.

At the time I remarked to now Dr. X, “This could be like herding cats.”

By the way, he more than pulled it off. However my concern in principle for all groups,whether face-to-face, or virtual had validity. For you see, as you already know instinctively, groups need to both be grown and grow themselves.

This is no easy task. Although there are plenty of examples to offer I’d like to offer Patrick Lencioni’s work as a good example.

Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team captures issues associated with effective group development in a tiered system that has much value.

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

In closing this blog post I’d strongly suggest that the Group Facilitator (I hate that word) not keep Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions as secret code. In fact, it is both healthy and conducive to the group’s evolution that they become aware of these Five Dysfunctions as they operate among each other. As they learn the “language” they learn to be aware of the presence of these dysfunctions and more likely collaborate to eliminate or reduce them!

Next blog post – Absence of  TRUST!

If you’re looking for a textbook or want to read a book re Leadership. Check out book just published where I am co-editor and a co-author, “Leadership for a Global Economy”.

Available through Amazon and North American Business Press.

I just invented a new word in another blog I write, Edufutures, http://edufuturing.wordpress.com.

The word is Trilaboration. I created this word to contrast against COllaboration. Collaboration connotes two groups or persons working together . In this case I used TRIlaboration to speak of three groups.

What I’ve done, and how it applies in our conversations about Schools – As – Systems – Organizations (SASAO) is press the premise of laboration, which I guess is another new word I have created. Laboration’s root is clearly in “work”. The CO and the TRI are prefixes that tell us about the number(s) of groups or individuals who are working together.

Trilaboration insofar as SASAO is concerned? Here this applies best to Senge’s Team Learning Discipline, one of his five that he identifies, the others being Shared Vision, Mental Models, Personal Mastery, and Systems Thinking.

Team Learning is what it sounds like. It is about the need for the Learning Organization, or in our case the SASAO, to foster skills where the group or the team can learn not only HOW to work together but also how to be effective together. Simply putting a group of folks or workers who may even have similar jobs or work responsibilities in a room does not necessarily mean that that group has any clue about how to effectively improve the overall Learning Organization.

How many “committees” or “task forces” have you been on that produced virtually nothing?

Follow this line of thinking more concretely. A Learning Organization needs the collective brain power and experiences to continuously dialogue among stakeholders so that it can foresee and deter problems, solve present problems, and create new processes and procedures to improve what they do.

When a team does this well it is a self empowering collective and effective unit, a major tool in the arsenal of continuing improvement for the SASAO. But when it is not, when the SASAO neither knows how to nor even cares to learn how to use inquiry-based analytical and creative practices it becomes an Organizational Tower of Babel.

This post we will begin a series of conversations about Team Learning and firstly concentrate on the human relations aspect of any kind of ….laboration.  We will also examine Lencioni’s “5 Dysunctions of a Team” as a basis for conversation.

Always remember, the human relations dimension of Team Learning only has value when it is factored in tandem with analytical tools needed to make Team Learning elevate past coalescence and cohesion up to effectiveness and long-range sustained planning.

Trilaboration insofar as SASAO is concerned is about the both and the skills of the organization’s stakeholders to work together both in the human relations component AND in their collective skills to think analytically and creatively.

For that matter Trilaboration might better be substituted for with MULTIlaboration. Don’t you think?