Paraphrasing the first paragraph of one of my still all-time favorite self-authored posts: the essence of every organization is a synergetic collaborative effort. We deliberately organize because we can create together something better than the sum of what we can separately create on our own.
Yet “collaboration” is a pretty fuzzy term, so designing structures in support of collaboration requires a more detailed taxonomy, which allows us to decompose collaboration into its respective parts, or modes if you will. I’ve been searching for such MECE taxonomy for quite a while and was delighted to come across Davi Gabriel da Silva and Rodrigo Bastos’ work, which comes pretty close to the goal:
While wrapped-up in progressive/”teal”/self-manage-y context, the section about meeting modes stands on its own and its conceptual applicability is not dependent on how “progressive” the organization is. Especially if we take a step back and realize that “meeting” is a label we use to describe a collaborative interaction, so “meeting modes” are synonymous with “collaboration modes”. Da Silva and Bastos identify 5 key modes:
Often times also referred to as “retrospective” and aimed at building a shared understanding of where we stand.
Making peer-to-peer requests to provide information, deliverables or help is an essential part of collaborative efforts.
Since collaboration takes place in a dynamic environment, there needs to be a mechanism for changing the way responsibilities are divided to best meet the changing conditions.
These dynamic “containers of responsibilities”, need to be dynamically filled by individuals as both the needs of the group and the needs of the individuals change.
Care for Relationships
A collaborative effort carried out by humans needs to account for our humanity. This mode aims to develop communication, recognize individual needs and nurture openness among collaborators.
In Target Teal’s open-source “pattern library” you can also find more specific examples for how to facilitate each one of the collaboration modes.