Co-creation Skills Training
Our work is increasingly collaborative but very few people have been trained in the specific behavioral skills of co-creation.
Our trainings teach key principles of collaboration through fun and interactive exercises that are grounded in the latest research on team performance.
By learning practical skills and practicing them in the workshops participants are able to apply them in the work environment and keep collaborations on track, continuously bringing out the best in each other and tapping into new and creative ideas.
Co-creation: Lessons from the Art of Improvisation
When we are In a group collaborative process that requires discussion and deliberation, it’s easy for some of us to find ourselves not listening because we already know what we want to say and are waiting for that person to stop talking. For others of us, it’s easy to withhold our own opinions and check out, because it seems that no one else is actually going to listen to us anyway. When this dynamic is present, minds are not changed, and new ideas are not presented.
Creating a productive cycle of contribution, listening, and building on ideas requires reframing the purpose of the time the group spends together. This workshop will use small-group exercises adapted from improvisational theater to help you establish a shared language with which to talk about collaboration, practice the skills and behaviors that make successful collaboration more likely, and come away with tools that can be immediately applied.
Groups well-versed in the principles and skills of collaboration and co-creation can move away from stagnation and silos and towards collective decision and action. They can better manage uncertainty and disagreement, harness their creativity, respond effectively in the moment, and leverage the diversity of thought and perspective of their members. This allows them to innovate and produce results that depend on everyone having an equal seat at the table.
This series of six workshops focuses on the behavioral in-the-moment skills of co-creation by way of improvisation. Each workshop will present research, a foundational principle from the art of improvisation, exercises to strengthen the improvisational skills essential for collaboration, followed by time to debrief, integrate, identify points of potential application, and set actions.
Make Your Partner Look Brilliant: Foundations of Co-creation
If trust isn’t present in a group, we likely don’t feel comfortable sharing our ideas and the value of having a diversity of perspectives and experience is squandered. Maybe when someone else speaks, we think we know right away that what they’re going to say isn’t helpful. Maybe we spend energy trying to convince everyone else to agree with us by repeating our point. Or maybe we hold back our idea because someone is probably just going to shoot it down anyway.
With trust, curiosity, and support established, members of a group will feel more comfortable bringing forward their diverse opinions, which in turn strengthens the group’s thinking and produces better results.
The improvisational principle “make your partner look brilliant,” shifts our focus away from ourselves and onto others, creating the opportunity to build trust by responding to what’s right in front of us.
Everything is An Offer: Establishing Shared Understanding
Inevitably, a collaborative group process will become tense as conflict arises. Oftentimes, conflict is seen as getting in the way of group productivity, efficiency, and success. And yet, conflict is a sign that people care. Instead of shutting down discussion and exploration when someone expresses a strong emotion, a skillful collaborator can see that strong opinion as revealing important information and can use that as an opportunity to find alignment of values, goals, and priorities. From here, the group can establish a new starting point from which to build.
Using the principle “Everything is an Offer,” this workshop will give you time to strengthen your ability to listen for, and to name, what others care about. This in turn increases a group’s resiliency and ability not only to withstand, but to benefit from, strong disagreement or conflict.
Yes, And: Active Co-creation
Your group gets along fine and listens to each other. You all have a shared goal, mission, and values. And yet, somehow ideas don’t go anywhere. Nothing seems to catch. Maybe nothing feels new; maybe some “realists” are always finding the problems in new ideas; maybe there are too many ideas on the table and no clear way to rank or prioritize them.
“Yes, And” offers an extremely effective way to quickly and lightly build out ideas by harnessing each person’s natural creativity. We’ll put this tool on its feet and into action in different iterations; you’ll be able to use it immediately after this workshop.
Be Brave: Find Your Own Voice Within the Group
Some people prioritize a group’s productivity so much that they mistakenly silence their own dissenting opinions. That dissenting opinion, however, may be crucial to fill out and strengthen the group’s thinking. Sometimes a group is so aligned and committed to co-creation that they move towards homogeneity, erasing the diversity that was crucial to the formation of the group in the first place.
This workshop affirms the necessity for healthy friction and skillful disagreement in any collaborative process. We will dive deeper into the distinction between agreement and co-creation, using the improvisational principle, “Be Brave.” It takes bravery to assert yourself and risk slowing down a process, and it takes practice to strengthen that skill.
Be Changeable: How to Find Balance When Things Go Wrong
A lot can go wrong when a group is working together over time: people leave the group, new people join, the leadership changes, external factors throw the original timeline off course, funding disappears. When this happens, a group needs to be able to re-group, i.e. become a group again. It’s back to the beginning! Thankfully, if the group has developed collaboration and co-creation skills, they can do this with agility and efficiency.
Co-creation is all about being changeable, while remaining committed to core principles and values and connected to the others you’re working with. In this workshop, we explore an array of different situations a group may commonly encounter that can throw it off-balance, and we practice finding a collective balance and effectiveness again.