The Four Dimensions: Your Organization
The purpose of this activity is to articulate and share how a participant’s organization operates on the four dimensions that characterize each collaboration. For each collaboration, there are four main “relevant dimensions” to successful collaboration: 1) culture (the context of the organization); 2) external resources (the people, funding, and other outside sources that provide support); 3) Communication (the approaches and structures people within an organization use to communicate); and 4) the individual players (the personal characteristics of individuals in the organization). This activity encourages individuals to become familiar with the four dimensions; it is another way for potential collaborators to get to know the organization(s) with which they may be collaborating.
Think about each of these dimensions and how they relate to your organization. If there are other individuals involved with the potential collaboration within your organization, work together to describe how each dimension unfolds at your organization. Some guiding questions are included below. These guiding questions can be used for discussion with particular collaborators about their respective organizations once all collaborators have completed this activity.
Culture: The context of the organization
External Resources: The people, funding, and other outside sources that provide support
Communication: The approaches and structures people within an organization use to communicate
Individual Players: The personal characteristics of individuals in the organization.
Describe the culture of your organization. Specifically, what is the general tone and mode of operation? Do individuals work in the office with rigid schedules, or is flexibility an option? Do people get together outside of work—how friendly is the staff? Is your organization a “meeting crazy” organization, or do individuals try to eliminate as many meetings as possible? These are some specifics, but there are many more questions to discuss.
What are the external resources that are most important to your organization? Consider individuals, funding, other material resources, physical space, issues of time management. Are understandings about these resources clear? Might these resources change over time?
How do people most often communicate within your organization? By email? Phone? In person? What are some structures that are in place that help with smooth (and not overwhelming amounts of) communication? Do you and your colleagues formalize or make less formal the process of communication? Why or why not?
Consider the individuals within your organization. Are there particular traits or qualities that are typical of these individuals, which help to define your organization?
Follow Up Questions:
1. Which of these dimensions do you think will offer the most support during the collaboration? Why?
2. Are any of these dimensions particularly difficult for you and your colleagues?
3. In order for all of these dimensions to operate as smoothly as possible, what is needed? What might be avoided or changed?