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COLLABORATION PART TWO

There is a reason McKinsey, Accenture, Deloittes and Tenzing, type consultancies do not organise children’s parties.

Children’s parties are complex, self-organising affairs. They are at their best when they are boisterous, slightly unruly and on the edge of being out of control. A child’s party that is under control is dull. One that spins out of control will end in tears. Parties work best when they take on a life of their own, without ever becoming chaotic. The rules for throwing a good child’s party are quite simple. To start with you have to set the tone, by establishing a clear and simple purpose: we are here to celebrate a birthday.

Imagine the consultants are organising a ten-year old birthday party, they might start with an exhaustive trawl to benchmark global best-practices in tenth birthday parties, maybe get together all of the parents of the children attending the party for an away-day at which with a facilitator would agree a vision statement and some learning goals for the party, which would be set out on a small card, given to every child prior to their arrival.  It would be made clear that their performance against these goals would determine what kind of party bag they would leave with and how much food they get and the top performers could get bonus presents. Half way through the party everything would grind to a halt so that all the children and adults could engage in 360 degree discussions to recalibrate their goals for the remainder of the party.  The party would conclude with a knowledge management team coming in to debrief everyone and make sure lessons learned were downloaded.

Parties are examples of our everyday capacity for self-collaboration with minimal rules and tools.  Scientific research is another excellent example of peer-to-peer open source collaboration.  In these communities innovation and creativity is invariably a cumulative, cooperative and shared activity.  It is rarely the work of a lone genius who comes up with an idea in a flash of insight, a eureka moment.

The X4MIS Change Management Methodology Open Source Collaboration Project is evolving from the combination of many hundereds of small contributions and a few large ones.  Open source is not about creating beautifully designed perfection, an open source project is one that can be built upon by many people with the aim of continuous improvement and refinement.

Most innovative projects like ours, whether inside a company, a theatre group or a laboratory, start with intense collaboration among a small group who share a particular passion or want to address a common problem.  Often, however, such communities can become closed and inward looking.  To be dynamic, the X4MIS Collaboration Project is open to a world of diverse contributors who will add their knowledge and challenge conventional wisdom.

People need a reason to join a community and to keep coming back.  Goals and values certainly matter but for X4MIS™ members it’s contributing as peers, rather than as expendable employees or contractors, which provides a sense of self-worth and status within the community and the process allows people to get together to do what they love.

The X4MIS™ Collaboration Project is attracting a much larger crowd, who are less intensely engaged with the project, providing occasional smaller contributions which will in aggregate be as significant as the work completed by the initial framework team.  This pragmatic, fix-as-you-go, approach to innovation – release early, use, learn, adapt, improve, release again – is made all the easier with lots of rapid feedback, because feedback is fast and easy.

The X4MIS Change Management methodology is built on a solid framework which is open to continuous improvement.  If it were complete already there would be fewer opportunities for improvement.  That is why people keep coming back to it because they get better methodology, processes and tools out of their continuous combined efforts.

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