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Collaborating for the Kingdom

One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me is that there is not a lot of clarity about collaboration. A consequence of this – beyond the obvious confusion – is disillusionment. For some, the Emperor is now clothed in the hype of collaboration, lacking any real substance or value or promise of change.
Because of this, it may be helpful to have a shared vocabulary that describes different aspects of the collaborative process and illustrates the various roles of technology.

There are four phases in the collaborative process, each of which serves a different purpose and works toward a unique outcome. Evaluating collaborative efforts accordingly helps groups set realistic expectations and move towards more significant types of collaboration.The four phases are:

  1. Collaborative Connections. This is when and where and how people discover shared interests. This can happen at training events, on Facebook, or in a number of other ways. What is primary in this phase is the connection; it doesn’t really matter if it is a personal connection, a ministry connection or some other shared point of interest.
  2. Collaborative Communication. While some communication begins in the first phase, it is of a show-and-tell variety. However, when people begin asking for help, they move the relationship into the second phase of collaboration. This could happen through a Skype call, an instant message or a forum. A key aspect of this phase is vulnerability and trust: I have a need that I am willing to share with you.
  3. Collaborative Projects. This is when the relationship moves beyond me to we. Up until this point, we have been sharing our own problems. Now, however, we are owning a shared problem. Furthermore, we have a fair degree of clarity regarding the problem, our desired outcome, our process and our time-frame. Managing this process could involve shared documents, a wiki, and/or a series of WebEx conference calls.
  4. Collaborative Teams. At this phase, people are as or even more committed to the collaborative process as they are to any given problem. They have formed strong relationships with their collaborators and they know the power of collaboration. They have become a highly committed, self-selected collaborative team.

Not many collaborative connections will lead to a collaborative team, but these four phases are still instructive in assessing collaborative processes and knowing how to best use collaborative tools.

Please let me know if you are interested in collaborating for the kindgdom!

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