Friday, August 10, 2007

CoLAB: University of Arizona Bio5 2008

The University of Arizona Libraries staff and Bess de Farber facilitated a session to connect 17 researchers to each other's assets during a 3 hour CoLAB session. The positive results were presented at the 2008 ALA conference poster session that demonstrated a possible new role for academic libraries: organizing information about a specific group's assets (articles, research, networks, etc.)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Communities of Practice - Origin

" ... small group of people who've worked together over a period of time. Not a team, not a task force, not necessarily an authorized or identified group. They are peers in the execution of "real work." What holds them together is a common sense of purpose and a real need to know what each other knows."

* The term "Community of Practice" was coined by John Seely Brown of the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) back in the 1980s.

Communities of Practice Quote

"It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religiouse traditions: hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow." Werner Heisenberg

Saturday, August 4, 2007

CoLAB Planning in the Glades

The Glades CoLAB held in Belle Glade, FL was pretty special. It brought participating organizations together that traditionally work in the Glades and those that wanted to extend their services to Glades residents through potential partnerships. CoLAB was so well received because it focused on the assets of organizations rather than gaps. Unfortunately, the Glades communities have been known for what they don't have like a movie theatre. But during our sessions together we mostly focused on what the Glades has to offer, and by combining these assets, determining how goals can be accomplished in new ways.

CoLAB Planning for SDKE: Sonoran Desert Knowledge Exchange

You can't believe how many people and organizations are working on advocating, educating, researching and sustaining the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico. The University of Arizona Libraries brought some of these folks together to explore the possibilities of connections and leveraging of assets.

It doesn't matter where we live or the subject of our life's work: creating communities of practice is the wave of the future for a variety of reasons. We have more information than ever before, but we are missing the in-person connection that gives us quick real-time information and an indication of mutual interest. If I had all the time in the world, I'd just be interested in interviewing people about their passions, interests, learnings, wisdom, assets, networks, and more. I'm wondering if all of this information is making us more isolated? The conversations are what spark creativity, especially if you have the right people in the room. These are the one's who self-select participation. If they show up, then that's the first step toward discovering the hidden potential in the room and community!

CoLAB Planning Team Collaboration Activity

What you see in these images is the team building activity that requires CoLAB participants to build a newspaper sculpture. One of the participants on the team observes and takes notes. This activity illustrates how participants choose to plan or not, communicate or not, laugh or not, work or not, etc. These choices are then analyzed in comparison to the production of the sculpture. You have to remember, these folks have never worked together in this way. They may know each other but by working in this activity, collaboration theories must be applied to be successful. Needless to say, this was a BLAST! The energy was focused and productive. We learned so much about how different people approach a challenge based on the combination of assets at the table, communication and planning processes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CoLAB for University of Arizona Libraries 2006

This was an experiment to determine if positive results could be generated from running a CoLAB Planning Series within a large organization. It worked! You can tell from the expressions that staff enjoyed learning more about each other; especially those who don't work together. The UAL has 165 employees so you can imagine that there isn't a lot free time to get to know people as this task seems so overwhelming.

CoLAB Planning for Martin County Literacy 2005

CoLAB for Martin County Literacy was really a treat. ASK presented a series of 3 workshops with all kinds of different folks interested in improving literacy within the county. We police officers, correction officers, government officials, school and industry representatives, and nonprofit organizations staff and volunteers. The result was the establishment of an actual Coalition charged to develop some of the ideas that came out of this session. United Way of Martin County was the CoLAB Planning sponsor. Everyone felt they walked away with concrete results.