Building a Collaboration: Considering the Four Dimensions
The purpose of this activity is to explore the relevant dimensions of a potential collaboration (culture, external resources, communication, and the individual players). Through discussion of the dimensions, collaborators learn more about how each collaborator views the collaboration, their perspectives on the dimensions as they pertain to the collaboration, and to identify goals for future work.
For successful collaborative work, there are four main “relevant dimensions.”
1. Culture: the context of the particular organizations involved in the collaboration.
2. External Resources: the people, funding, and other outside sources that can be brought to a collaboration.
3. Communication: the approaches and structures people in a collaboration use to communicate.
4. Individual Players: the personal characteristics of individuals involved in a collaboration.
Think together about these dimensions and talk about the definitions of each for the nascent collaboration. Describe how you would like each dimension to unfold. Some guiding questions are included to begin the conversation.
How might the particular cultures of participating groups involved influence the organizational structure of the collaboration? Are there cultural issues that may impact the collaborative process (for example, school culture, museum culture)? How might these cultural differences influence the outcome of the work?
What are the external resources that can be brought to this collaboration? Consider individuals, funding, other material resources, physical space, issues of time. How can understandings about these resources be made as clear as possible? Might these resources change over time?
How can communication be most clear and efficient? What are some structures that should be in place in order to help with smooth (and not overwhelming amounts of) communication? Should you or your colleagues formalize or make less formal the process of communication? Why or why not?
Consider the individuals involved in the collaboration. Are there particular traits or qualities that you might point to that may make the process run smoothly (e.g. being very organized) or pose particular challenges (e.g. always running late, not checking email)? Be honest. Are these attributes that you and others might learn from and either emulate or avoid in the future?
Follow Up Questions:
1. Which of these dimensions do you expect to offer the most support during the collaboration? Why?
2. Are any of these dimensions particularly difficult for you and your colleagues?
3. What do you propose in order for all of these dimensions to operate as successfully as possible? What might be avoided or changed?