Collaboration

By Jessica Webster @jgroteweb

Collaboration has been a key to success both personally and professionally for me. Often educational leaders are faced with tough decisions that require complex solutions. By collaborating with others, soliciting multiple viewpoints and welcoming those stakeholders with diverse experiences, issues are framed and solutions are provided that allow for growth.

Because we are in a human-centered profession, I have embraced Human Centered Design protocols often to tackle tough issues in a collaborative way. Early in November, I was lucky enough to participate in an intensive workshop at the world famous Stanford University Doctoral School. Through some intense experiences, I expanded my understanding of Human Centered Design protocols and how to frame problems or needs through the lens of the user experience. What a wonderful opportunity! A few takeaways from the experiences were the importance of vocabulary and framing the problem, noticing and reflecting and embracing our own messiness.

Vocabulary is important.
If we ask questions or focus on activities with specific outcomes, we will continue to gather specific results. Framing questions to focus on the verb rather than the noun makes all the difference. For example, we were asked to draw a vase. Not surprisingly, all our vases looked very similar. But when we were asked to draw one way in which we could experience or enjoy flowers, the possible answers became more diverse and even abstract.

Noticing and Reflection are key at every stage in the process.
We must understand who we are, notice how we show up in spaces and take feedback from others at every step throughout the process. 

This is the key to strong #collaboration because we all come with our own biases and must be willing to be open to exploring those for true #ncollaboration and results.

Another way to put this is: Stand Up, Step Back. If you are someone who often gives opinions, allow space for others to stand up by stepping back. This is extremely important for leaders because collaboration requires us to encourage other voices. We risk everyone agreeing with the leadership when we provide our opinions first.

We as humans are all iterations.
In other words, we are all works in progress, in process, and we can all identify ways in which we can tweak ourselves and grow. Embracing the messiness and screw ups are all part of the process whether you are designing a project, learning new course material or developing your new exercise routine. This may be the most important for me, personally. Understanding that we will constantly be working towards continuous improvement both personally and professionally means embracing that messiness and providing grace to others as they also strive to grow.

As educational leaders it is also important that we provide mentorship for those aspiring towards leadership to understand and utilize these tools in order to make lasting impact in our profession.

 

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