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Cycles of Collaboration

By Susan Grove & Hélène Lesterlin

The Good Work in Groups collection is intended to describe specific skills, capacities, and tools that can serve as resources and reminders to support facilitators or groups as they aim to collaborate on a shared goal toward a Just Transition.

Collaboration is not an automatic result of a desire to work together well, but flows from intentional, ongoing practices that develop the awareness and capacities of a group, its stewards, and its participants. 

The tips and tools we have created and gathered in this collection, Good Work in Groups, have been developed and tested through our own work in the facilitation and stewardship of various groups and learning cohorts, as well as through the support given to our communities of practice. 

A consistent idea that has informed GWI’s approach throughout our offerings is that collaboration – knowing how to work together effectively – may be as important as knowing what to do to shape change, for a few different reasons:

  • We won’t be able to respond to the calling of this moment to change the very systems governing our collective lives if we work in silos, whether as organizations, initiatives, or individuals. We have to get together and work collaboratively. 
  • We don’t tend to be limited by the number of ideas for how we might do Good Work toward building regenerative economies and just societies. Instead, our good ideas tend to fall short of our intentions because we don’t know how to navigate the messiness of actual collaboration and moving into action.

The good news is that there are skills and capacities that can be developed and tools that can be used to enable us to collaborate effectively. The Good Work in Groups collection is intended to act as a resource that gathers approaches and reminders to support facilitators or groups as they aim to work on a shared goal toward a Just Transition.

How to Navigate through Good Work in Groups

This collection is organized around Cycles of Collaboration. You can explore the posts in order of the cycle, starting with Align & Design, or dip in where you need ideas. Most of the posts contain a brief article and then a tool or facilitation plan for you to try. On the right-hand side of the post, are links to all posts in the collection, so you can click through to any post in the collection from any page. We have also included a few top Recommended Resources on each post, for you to explore topics in more depth with authors and websites we have found useful.

The Good Work in Groups collection of resources is intended as a place to come to collect ideas, inspiration, and tools. Everything we share we have tried ourselves, but, as we always like to state, we are in a learning journey too.

We invite you to explore, experiment, and let us know how it goes! Please share your questions and experiences of using this resource by clicking the pink “We’d love your feedback” button on the right.

The Cycles of Collaboration

1. Align & Design: 

  • Collaboration begins with alignment, which comes about when people are able to clarify and express their personal purpose, explore overlapping shared purpose, and develop the group’s common purpose. 
  • Once a group or organization knows why it exists, it can enter into an ongoing cycle of collaboration.

2. Learn & Decide

  • Developing a practice of participatory facilitation
  • Learning effective ways to pursue the group’s purpose; what can or should be done
  • Deciding on roles and goals the group can pursue collectively
  • Creating agendas that meet the need to get things done while building trust and momentum

3. Act & Support

  • Coordinating efforts to act on next steps and achieve goals
  • Supporting each other through the practice of accountability
  • Starting to evolve our capacities in conflict resilience

4. Reflect & Redesign

  • Meeting to reflect on action, thinking through how lessons learned influence the next cycle of collaboration
  • The group realigns around revised or strengthened purpose 

We are so grateful to the Bloomfield Family Foundation for their support of Good Work in Groups.

Related Topics:

  • Shared Leadership: we published a blog series on shared leadership as we evolved from a traditional non-profit to a worker self-directed non-profit, a form that explicitly has us living into shared leadership practices and creating organizational policies that align. We have begun offering coaching and a consulting practice where we work with organizations. We also offer workshops on Democracy in the Workplace and Shared Leadership.
  • The Good Work Hour: we host a weekly radio show where we interview people in the region whose Good Work is inspiring. You can click through to archived recordings to listen anytime or tune in on Tuesdays at 7pm.

Related Posts

Align / Design

Align / Design

Learn / Decide

learn / decide

Align / Design

Act / support

Reflect / Redesign

reflect / redesign


Susan Grove, GWI
Susan (she/her) is energized by opportunities to learn and facilitate learning; to design participatory gatherings and organize information; to tap into the power of effective collaboration and the generative potential of conflict; to connect across differences and contribute toward more equitable futures in the Mahicantuck Valley. 

Hélène Lesterlin, GWI
Hélène (she/her) is inspired by what can happen when creativity, collaboration, and clarity come together. She works to illuminate narratives that change our outlook and understanding, and helps Just Transition-aligned people and projects move into action.

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