Creating a Culture of Collaboration:
The International Association of Facilitators Handbook
Sandor Schuman, Editor
Book Review by Leigh Rivenbark and Nicole Gauvin
HR Magazine, Vol. 51, No. 11 (November 2006). p. 136, 138.
Collaborating for a single project or during an important meeting takes commitment. But that commitment is short term. In Creating a Culture of Collaboration, more than three dozen authors examine how to build organizational cultures to foster long-term collaboration that survives when things get tough.
This collection of essays opens with a conversation. Five CEOs talk about what they've learned, including the skills leaders need to work collaboratively, ways to deal with resistance to collaboration and the challenges of shifting an entire organization toward a collaborative culture.
The essays then cover three broad areas-the bases for collaboration, practical approaches to collaboration and examples of collaboration in action.
Looking at the fundamental bases for collaboration, authors discuss the key roles of participants, facilitators and sponsors of collaborative projects. Essays also examine how communication can build the social trust needed for collaboration, how equity and diversity affect social transformations, and how collaborations work in situations where there is little trust.
Essays on practical approaches to collaboration offer ways to make collaboration work. One technique urges people in an organization to learn more about their own experience and the experiences of others, so that communication among collaborators is clearer.
Other essays about approaches look at how facilitators or managers can build their own and others' self-awareness to improve collaboration, what makes an organization's culture toxic and what strategies and tools facilitators can use to promote collaborative culture, and how cooperative processes develop over time.
Case studies probe, among other examples, how a public school system worked to eliminate its racial achievement gap, how a county agency facing hostility among employees created a more cooperative environment, and how a major urban development project used "deliberative democracy" to involve citizens in decisions and promote collaboration.
The book provides copies of various organizations' official statements on collaborative values and principles. A summary of the book's key concepts lets readers review ideas and find the essays that focus on those ideas.
Editor Sandy Schuman is an associate of the Center for Policy Research, University at Albany, State University of New York.