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14 Sep 2020

Collaboration in Changing Times Workshop: Reflections from international thought leaders

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Reflection on mapping the conversation. 

By Jennifer Chaplyn, CFI Network member


On 26th August 2020, Collaboration for Impact held an online workshop that brought together people from across Australia to explore the experiences of international change leaders working towards systemic change. 

Workshop participants watched a series of videos in which Liz Skelton, CFI Director, interviewed several global change-makers and thinkers, and then reflected on their own experiences of change.

As part of the workshop, my role was to capture contributions from people as they reflected on questions such as: 

  • What resonated with you about what you are seeing in the context you are exercising change?
  • What conditions are enabling change and collaboration?
  • What's resonating about the conditions? 
  • What are the patterns showing up?
  • What resonated with you that has enabled you in making change?

While we knew that we wanted to use MURAL to capture the conversation in real-time, we first needed to work out the most appropriate way to map the conversation.  

Every time I think about collaborative approaches to systemic change, I always come back to the presence of a few core skills/practices/elements that need to be there to make progress.  At a minimum, those are leadership and decision-making structures, community engagement and the use of data.  Mapping the conversation against the Collaborative Change Cycle (CCC), met this brief and also meant people could replicate this process themselves using existing tools and resources.

With that decision made, I had to work through a number of other important questions, such as:

  • How do I hold or manage the power of mapping what people share vs having people doing it themselves?
  • What if I don’t capture what people share in the way they intended?
  • What if the info comes so fast that I can’t capture it?
  • What if I get it ALL wrong???

After much reflection, I realised that listening for areas of energy that people shone a light on, rather than specific things people said they did, would provide a high-level and accurate picture of the conversation.  I also found it helpful to think of capturing information in this way as (part of) a sense-making process, rather than a categorising process.  

To show experiences of the change journey from multiple perspectives, contributions from guest speakers were shown as rectangle sticky notes, participants contributions were captured on square stickies and barriers shared by participants were noted on circles.

The unfolding conversation highlighted how unique each change journey is and how different the areas that provide a catalyst or give the process strength are. Some started with imagining the future, while others built on social movements and even COVID. (I can’t believe I actually wrote that we are in a pandemic….)

There were also some strong similarities in people’s experiences.  For example, there was a big focus on the importance and power of leadership and community engagement, and a theme of innovation that happened along the journey.

One of the strongest themes that emerged was a focus on the role of power in building the foundations for change.  This included the role of government and institutions in helping or hindering progress, the power of structural inequity and the importance of building systemic awareness, learning about how to use power and building the conditions for others (including community) to lead.  

There was also a strong theme of focusing on ‘local’ including the role communities do and need to play in identifying issues, what the issues look like in and to communities, and the importance of community or ‘hyper-local’ leadership.

Imagining a new and different future, and being future-focused, helped build a strong foundation or catalyst for change.  

Networks and collaborations working across layers of the system, understanding that ‘we are in and of the system’, holding focus on disrupting the system and power-holders using influence to give voice to what is important, all enabled progress.

Innovations focused on practice change to inform systems change, keeping messages simple and clear, finding different ways to collaborate, and communicating and embracing the unknown (‘conscious incompetence’).

What emerged from this rich exploration, is this MURAL document.


More Platform C resources: 

About the Collaborative Change Cycle 

Progress Mapping Tool  (in our Facilitator resources)


Interviews with guest international speakers:

CFI in conversation with Kelly Bates and Julian Corner

CFI in conversation with Julie Diamond and Eric Martin

CFI in conversation with Liz Weaver

CFI in conversation with Paul Schmitz


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