If you have read our book or worked with us over the past 10 years you will know that we talk about our five-step pathway for collaboration. We call it the Power of Co Pathway. We built it as a step-by-step guide to help collaborators know what to do and when to do it. The five steps are:

  1. Commit to collaboration
  2. Co-define the dilemmas
  3. Co-design the process
  4. Co-create solutions
  5. Co-deliver actions.

The framework is simple, clear and the evidence suggests that it works well.

Yet over the years we have come to realise that collaboration can never be fully described by a linear, step-by-step model. Collaboration tends to be organic, emergent and fluid rather than neat and linear. In our collaborative work we saw that the stages blend and merge, run in parallel and interact with each other in a creative and wonderful way. Often, people begin half way along, perhaps at Co-create, then find themselves going back to Co-defining the dilemma together when the realise they need to better understand what’s going on. All of which builds their Commitment to Collaboration, which in turn allows them to do work on Co-designing the process together so that they can get back to finding solutions.

Productive? Yes. Linear? No.

Which inspired us to rethink the structure of our pathway. The steps are the same but we have begun to represent them more as a system. Importantly, commitment to collaboration is at the heart of the journey because everything we do should be about building and growing the momentum and energy for working together. The other four are represented in a clockwise sequence, but in reality we can move from any step to any other, through the commitment circle in the middle.

So when you are collaborating you can start anywhere, go everywhere on the Power of Co Pathway. Think of it less as five steps to follow and more as five precious ideas to carry with you on your journey. Any and all of them can be useful and relevant wherever you are.

Which of the ideas do you need to tap into today in your work?

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Our Collaborative Pathway is the topic of discussion in our next free webinar. Join the discussion to learn more about the linear versus emergent aspects of working with others.