A new spirit is emerging in this momentous era. Individuals connect with others with whom they adventure development, innovation and change. These new kinds of connections are less ego-guided, align their collaboration to a higher purpose, and are driven by agile values. Their ultimate goal is to act to the good of humanity and earth, including the global, ecological and spiritual dimension.
In spite of good intentions, many innovative groups end in frustration. It takes more than motivation and dreams to turn longterm collaboration into a real transition of existing practices. Collaboration requires design principles in order to succeed. A collaborative circle is an agile ritual with specific characteristics and steps. Social entrepreneurs, change makers, leaders and community workers can use these principles to establish an empowering long-term collaboration with an effective impact.
A growing number of cooperative people devote their work and life making the world a better place. But in spite of good intentions, many collaborative initiatives fail to achieve the desired change. Successful collaboration with the ambition to turn around a discipline, organizational culture, or social system requires design principles based on a 21st century systemic and multi-layered world view.
Collaborative circles describes how you can design and facilitate long-term collaboration that is effective in its ambition. Design principles are translated into an agile ritual for collaboration and circle gatherings. Social entrepreneurs, change agents, team coaches, and community workers can use these principles to establish an empowering long-term collaboration with an effective impact.
- Definition and design principles
- The evolutionary leap in collaboration
- Stages in circle development
- The Team Fork model
Part II: Circle Gatherings
- Definition, goals, and design principles
- The facilitator
- The seven step ritual
Part III: Case Study
- Corporate activism
- Volunteering activism
Collaborative circles, collaboration, agile, circle work, multi-layered, ecological world view, holarchy, integral, change, social change, organizational development.
Collaborative Circles starts off with a vision on the role of collaborative groups in change ventures: good collaboration is a prerequisite for long-term successful changes. So you would be well advised to to turn change-oriented collaboration into an art form, instead of just trusting that all will be well.
Part I, COLLABORATIVE CIRCLES, describes design principles and frameworks for team development and successful change groups. In the current era people are involved in many groups, but if they want to be part of a profound change they will have to be committed to a long-term collaborative circle of people who have the same higher purpose. The author introduces a model, the Team Fork, to help change makers and facilitators. The Team Fork is designed according a multi-layered world view in which we accept that we are all ‘partwholes’, participating in larger wholes and striving towards wholeness.
Part II, THE CIRCLE GATHERING, is devoted to the practice of working together on issues in a gathering. If a group collaborates, their action in the field has to be balanced out with reflection and deepened awareness. The circle gathering is an agile ritual which translates all lines of development into a seven-step process. Design principles are important to follow. A chapter describes the multiple roles of the facilitator. His is not only a master of ceremonies, but also a coach, a mediator, a teacher, awakener and sponsor of the process.
Part III, CASE STUDY, brings together a range of different cases so you can grasp the application of this approach. There is a chapter on organizational activism: using the design principles for organizational change. The last chapter collects volunteering activist initiatives. All cases end with lessons learned, as following the path of progression and awareness is more essential than reaching an outcome.
- Team coaches, facilitators, and hosts: you receive a clear step-by-step ritual to guide a group through their journey, meanwhile teaching them to collaborate.
- Change makers, social entrepreneurs, innovators, and activists: you will develop a keener understanding of the preconditions for successful change programs.
- Organizational consultants, leaders, and HR staff: the book gives you an answer how you can use groups in participatory organizational change.
‘Collaborative Circles helps us take shared ownership of the complex systems we deal with. We are, after all, all together, all involved, even when we think we aren’t. Inspired by the principles in this book, we can become more conscious, competent participants in the transformational enterprise. Collaborative Circles offers significant insights for deeper, more holistic collaborations.’
Tom Atlee, author of The Tao of Democracy and Reflections on Evolutionary Activism (www.co-intelligence.org)
‘Starting from the T-groups in the sixties, over organizational learning, U-theory, organization development, systemic work, appreciative and generative inquiry, the relational dimension of organizational work has been articulated tentatively over the past decades. There is also a continuous new reformulation necessary, answering the growing challenges, to develop new appropriate co-creative relational practices. Collaborative circles is such a refreshed approach for this always growing relational and collaborative challenge.’
Prof. René Bouwen, social constructionist organizational psychology, University of Leuven
‘This book contains a lot of wisdom and facilitation experience. We live in times of great disruption. While other authors have described what kind of new structures might replace the old ones, Rudy Vandamme’s book Collaborative Circles explains processes, which can help such teams to build the necessary trust which is required. The second part of the book is a vademecum of facilitation. Based on his lifelong experience as a facilitator, Rudy describes in detail all aspects of his profession and links it to the support of productive work teams.
Holger Nauheimer, Founder of The Change Days (www.berlinchangedays.com)
‘I can’t recommend enough Collaborative Circles to anyone curious about collective efficiency. How to direct team energy towards organizational and social change? Rudy Vandamme offers a rich methodology, founded on a wealth of knowledge and profound personal experience, in a generous and accessible way. A great book for team facilitators, consultants and leaders.
Céline Schillinger, Key influencer on Corporate Activism (www.weneedsocial.com)
Rudy Vandamme’s Collaborative Circles is a much needed human-oriented intervention in a rapidly less-than-human technological environment. Circle gatherings have a deep human history, and when done well, lead to long-term collaboration that is mindful, open and full of constructive surprises. Rudy’s pragmatic and instructive book clearly outlines these principles that are needed to share the benefits of empowering dialogue. In light of my own experience, I would recommend using Collaborative Circles, in particular, for entrepreneurs to slow-down and consider the social impact their ventures may have, in all possible positive or negative ways.
Dr. Neil Thompson, Professor, Management and Organization, Free University of Amsterdam
Comments of colleagues and friends
Collaborative Circles is a most significant contribution not only to our understanding of collaboration, but also to the final outcome: becoming more agile to change fundamental habits, paradigms and worldviews.
Collaborative Circles is a must-read for change makers who understand that group performance is pivotal in successful change.
Collaborative Circles gives you an insightful, research-based framework that helps you develop as a facilitator, team coach or change agent working with a group that wants to make a lasting difference.
Collaborative Circles provides a clear, detailed road map that helps pinpoint where a group is on its change journey.
Collaborative Circles constitutes a fresh rethinking of what team development can mean. The range and depth of this synthesis is refreshing.
Many books on groups and teams can be boiled down to a few simple concepts. However, this is not the case of Collaborative Circles as almost every page has many nuggets of practical wisdom.
Collaborative Circles resonates very strongly with the critical elements to effective 21st century competencies.
Collaborative Circles help citizens to take responsibility for the whole without becoming a martyr or activist.
Readers of Wilber, Laloux, and Beck & Cowan will find Collaborative Circles to be a relevant contribution to the emerging dialogue about the integral approach to team development.
Through a variety of case studies and other examples, Collaborative Circles demonstrates the way design principles create the precondition for an effective change ritual.