Collaboration practitioner workshop gathering strength

Collaboration practitioner workshop gathering strength

Despite a wildcat TTC strike that forced many Torontonians to stay at home or abruptly change their travel plans, half of the participants who signed up for the collaboration practitioners communities of practice second workshop showed up at the Centre for Social Innovation on May 29th.

Granted, says Eli Majinsky, program manager, the number was small – fourteen – but the dedication showed an upturn in interest in helping the fledgling group succeed.

After its first meeting on March 6th, which drew a meager twenty people, it seemed as if the Community of Practice, which by definition is supposed to develop on its own and sustain itself, had no legs.

Speaking with Axiom News after that initial gathering, Malinski wasn’t too hopeful about the group’s prospects.

“We haven’t seen much energy from the collaboration practitioners community of practice,” he said. “The leadership has been lukewarm.” Another group, focused on IT and e-learning, was progressing rather quickly, he noted at the time.

The collaboration practitioner group was first initiated by the centre, who felt that individuals who take the role of facilitating and managing intra-organizational partnership projects were lacking both a model and skill set. The position of collaboration practitioner, who are often singularly burdened with creating and sustaining partnership projects amongst organizations, was a common yet nebulous one. Read more.

The most recent meeting, which focused on ways collaboration practitioners can manage conflict and push projects ahead despite inter-organizational resistance, began with a talk by Cindy Stone. Stone gave what Malinsky calls a “provocative” talk on new collaborative leadership, which inspired the group immediately.

“It stimulated a lot of questions,” he says. The group decided to continue by following and expanding Stone’s theme, he says.

The group looked at inspirational books, such as the work of Ken Wilber and Saul Alinsky, who penned the seminal activist organizing manual - “Rules for Radicals.”

As many of the group’s participants are veterans of progressive, non-governmental organizations, the group serves as an avenue and venue for professional development, says Malinsky.

Most importantly, says Malinsky, the group is deciding ways to self-fund further meetings and has also committed to quarterly meetings, a sign of interest and development of a growing “community of practice.”

“It’s a success for a community of practice when it achieves a life of its own,” he says.

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Craig Anderson

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