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Innovation Lab Facilitator, Sharon Thomas Shares Insights

As a nonprofit servant for more than 20 years, I have seen and experienced great power and still greater results when organizations with a common purpose and vision choose to collaborate in service to community.  As such, I was thrilled to say “Yes!” when Debbie Nelson invited me to participate as one of the Innovation Lab Facilitators at “Transitioning from Coordination to Collaboration”, the final event in the Transforming Nonprofits Through Innovative Leadership series presented by Shine The Light Nonprofit Forums.

Meeting new colleagues and listening to shared ideas, challenges and successes energized me, and I came away encouraged not only by wisdom from thought leaders like Darrin Goss, president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, but also through fresh ideas from both new and experienced collaborators during our Innovation Labs.

Here is a summary of what we discussed/what I heard in our four discussion areas:

Leading Forward:  What role does your purpose play in how you  establish and maintain Collaborations?

Generally speaking, each person at our table identified that their passion fueled their desire to work with others because they recognized the power of working together toward a common goal.  One in particular, shared that his desire to collaborate is what brought him into the nonprofit field as a servant.

Creating a vibrant culture.  Do you collaborate by default or design?

There was consensus that many nonprofits collaborate by default.  Something like the 1000 Year Flood requires it for all to survive/recover.  However, we agreed that even in the midst of default collaboration there exists an opportunity to cast an eye toward design collaboration.  One participant said “Fresh ideas create new collaborations”.

Accelerating Organizational Effectiveness.  What challenges do you expect and how will you manage them?

We all agreed that time may be the greatest challenge.  It takes time to listen, to understand and to “change what we measure” as a result of what we hear from one another.  Someone said there is a “post, truth, reality” we must aspire to that comes only from taking time to understand one another and through that understanding to recognize solutions.

Transitioning from Coordination to Collaboration.  How do we increase intensity?

There was agreement that we must take risks with one another in order to build trust and we must have trust in order to collaborate well.  Someone suggested we should strive for inclusion, and turn around in order to see who we may be overlooking and then “Listen for the questions we are not asking”.

Thank you Innovation Lab Facilitator, Sharon Thomas for sharing your insights!

Posted November 17, 2016 in: Blog by Debbie Nelson

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