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19 Aug 2021

Bringing in Deep Collaboration to the collaborative change journey

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Bringing in Deep Collaboration to the collaborative change journey

By Beck Ronkson, CFI Network Member & Gabby Shaw, CFI Digital Lead


We are excited to now be sharing a set of Deep Collaborative resources across the collaborative change cycle on Platform C.  This will help drive new ways of creating shared leadership between First Nations and other multicultural Australians for collaborative systems change.

And what if your project isn’t explicitly engaging with First Nations communities? 

“We know that every piece of work that we do here in this country is on the lands and waters of First Nations people. So we are already engaged with First Nations just by doing work here in this country” 

Mark Yettica-Paulson, Deep Collaboration Lead, Collaboration for impact. 

The idea of shared leadership and collaboration is attractive, it paints a picture of individuals and groups working together harmoniously for the same goals and towards a shared vision. But this doesn’t just happen organically, or if you’ve assumed that it will, then there may be dynamics you are missing. 

Working for change can be tough work. There are layers and layers of intersecting knowledge, known and unknown, that influence the collaboration. In many cases, obstacles and conflicts appear where we don’t expect. You find yourself asking - how did we end up here? What happened? 

Across your collaborative change journey, collaboration needs to be authentic. This calls for purposeful collaboration between First Nations and other Australians, understanding and working with complex forms of power, and a willingness to learn, adapt and change in response to new ideas and perspectives. 

“In Australia, whatever the context you are in, the history of colonisation and the impacts of that will be playing out in some form in many of the systemic challenges we face” 

Liz Skelton, Collaboration for Impact

Like the first phase of the collaborative change cycle which explores Readiness by cultivating urgency for change, having conversations and dialogue about the need for working differently, forming relationships, and building trust, the Deep Collaboration practice asks at this step, ‘Are we ready for Deep Collaboration? Is everyone involved ready to take part in finding new ways for First Nations and other multicultural Australians to lead together?’. Crucially, it also points out when it is contra-indicated.  

The Deep Collaboration practice continues as the collaborative change work expands through creating the conditions, reading the patterns, understanding collaboration and power, and working on ‘hot spots’ which are naturally occurring points of tension signalling potential breakthrough in a collaboration. These are useful practices across any community domain. 

Born out of many years of practice, wrestling, reflection and collaboration, Deep Collaboration highlights some patterns of behaviour that are common within collaborations between First Nations and other Multicultural Australians and gives a framework for working with them. 

Mark Yettica-Paulson and Liz Skelton discuss the relevance of Deep Collaboration to systems practice in Australia and its relationship to other tools on Platform C in the video below.


Examples of Deep Collaboration Resources embedded on Platform C:

Phase 1 Readiness: Deep Collaboration 'The Fundamentals'

Phase 2 Building the Foundations: Deep Collaboration 'Why seek out difference when we are trying to collaborate?'

Phase 3 Creating a Shared Vision: Deep Collaboration 'Working with collaboration and power dynamics'

Phase 4 Scaling Up: Deep Collaboration 'Working on hotspots - How to notice and work with escalation'

Phase 5 Achieving Transformation: Deep Collaboration 'How can you recover relationships when things go badly?'


More on Deep Collaboration

> Collaboration for Impact's Systems Change Learning Program includes dedicated learning workshops and programs for Deep Collaboration.

> Explore the Deep Collaboration website

Liz Skelton & Mark Yettica-Paulson talk about Deep Collaboration on Platform C


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