tools for connection, collaboration and participation

Connecting people with shared goals, designing the platform and movements that bring them together from which further innovations can emerge is crucial to tackle the complex social and environmental challenges we're facing. Facilitating collaboration, cooperation, and connection is a competency requiring intentional practices, rituals and tools, with some of my favourites outlined here.

tools for collaboration

Getting people from across the public, private, and civil sectors to effectively work together comes down to one fundamental question: how do you get people to work with you who don’t work for you? CollaborateUp focuses on approaches to build strong multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives.

This report by Nesta brings together simple, accessible tips to help organisations become more collectively intelligent and make better group decisions. From idea generation to evaluation, it describes how each stage of the decision making process can be optimised to make the most of the skills in the team and beyond.

Five conventional structures guide the way we organize routine interactions and how groups work together: presentations, managed discussions, open discussions, status reports and brainstorm sessions. Liberating Structures add 33 more options to the big five conventional approaches.

Small, meaningful moments of connection have a huge impact upon our mental and physical wellbeing, as well the way we perform at work and the way we behave towards each other. From research and development with 60+ organisations as part of Catalyst, we’ve defined Five Conditions, Principles and Methods that help to create human connection in digital services. Now we’re sharing them with you.

Other resources:

Tools for facilitating meetings and gatherings:

  • Tools for facilitating online meetings recommended by Hyper Islands.

  • IDOARRT meeting design principles (Intention, Desired Outcomes, Agenda, Roles, Rules, and Time), with a Miro board template from Hyper Island.

  • Check-in and check-out processes are fundamental to the work we engage in, and set the context and the tone for what we will actually do together. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus, and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and closure.

Tools for building teams:

  • The Team Canvas As a leader or facilitator, you experience moments when you need to bring team members together, clarify their goals, figure out their motivations and help them to be more aligned and productive. The Team Canvas can be used to start a structured conversation with the team and bring everyone on the same page.

  • 3 activities (and their template) for creating high performing team; defining team goals, shared understanding, and established ways of working. By Xplane, people and organisational change consultancy.

co-design and participation methods

StickyNotes provides useful resources and outlines the mindsets needed for for co-design and co-production; creating spaces and opportunities for convening people through creative and participatory methods, so they can better define and design what they need and build it together.

The bite-sized A-Z of Co-Design is a folding wallchart exploring participatory design’s origins, methods and techniques, key roles, principles and issues. By taking account of a wider range of perspectives and experiences, we can design inclusive solutions, products and services that are better suited to users’ needs.

Involve is the UK participation charity, on a mission to put people at the heart of decision-making. Their resources page is a gold mine for participation and co-design resources.

The ladder of co-production describes a series of steps towards co-production in health and social care. It supports greater understanding of the various stages of access and inclusion before full co-production is achieved.

Maternity Voice Partnership is an example of embedding co-production in service design; groups of women and their families, commissioners and providers (midwives and doctors) working together to review and contribute to the development of local maternity care. This website includes tools for any members of MVPs to implement co-creation and co-production activities.

collective intelligence

Nesta's Centre for Collective Intelligence defines this practice as creating ways for communities to use technology to harness their ideas and power to act on the problems that matter to them.

I found that this playbook by Nesta provides very useful tools and prompts to think about ways to harness the power of the collective in any type of project, looking at

A Trello board collection of collective intelligence tools ranging from widely adopted to nice open innovation, knowledge management, citizen science, crowdmapping tools, which give concrete examples of how these are already applied and embedded in our day-to-day. There's also a collection of Collective Intelligence projects.

In this book, Geoff Mulgan (professor of collective intelligence and chief executive of Nesta) explores how collective intelligence has to be consciously organized and orchestrated in order to harness its powers, and how it could resolve.

Examples of how this is applied: