Resource Spotlight: CoCreative
In this month's resource spotlight we hear from Russ Gaskin, founder of CoCreative. He sharest how they help people "create the conditions for whole people to show up, to leverage their uniqueness and differences as assets, and to focus on what’s most important in the work to produce the kinds of systemic changes that are needed." They also share a 'Pot of Gold' Resource section on their website including training manuals and presentations. CoCreative also led a recent webinar for the FSLN on Collaborating for Transformative Change.
Organization name: CoCreative
Contact person: Russ Gaskin
Link to sign up for listserv, newsletter, etc.:
Who are we “speaking” with and what’s your role?
I’m Russ Gaskin, the founder of CoCreative and now one of several partners.
Domain/Subject Area (Do you focus on a specific area or have an area of expertise? For example: policy, resources for beginning farmers, etc.):
CoCreative supports systems change collaborations that produce real results. We currently support about two dozen multi-stakeholder collaborations focused on racial equity, shared prosperity, and ecological sustainability. Several of the networks we’ve helped develop are in the food and agriculture space, such as the Carbon Farming Innovation Network, which is focused on sequestering atmospheric CO2 through agriculture, and several networks related to food access, food security, and local food economies.
We help people who don't know each other, and sometimes don't even like each other, change complex systems so they work better for people and the planet.
Okay now for the fun stuff…
How would you describe your organization? But there’s a catch… describe your org in a haiku!
seeing the great need
to work together better,
we share resources
What does your org bring to the national food systems table?
CoCreative provides practical frameworks and methods for helping diverse groups align around a shared intent, connect in trusting relationships, and learn their way through complexity to powerful shared strategies for systemic change.
Our only “strategy” is to continually grow our impact five times faster than we grow our organization, so we freely share all of our tools, models, and methods, and support the launch and development of other consultancies in this space. We also offer training on collaborative innovation, leveraging conflict as a resource for social innovation, and advanced facilitation of multi-stakeholder collaboration—and give away our course plans and materials too.
Who do you serve?
We support, coach, and train people who want to build effective networks and collaborations across organizational, sectoral, political and cultural boundaries. We also support several efforts to build the field and practice of systems change, including leading SIGNAL, a global initiative to build better learning and support resources for people doing systems change work.
What do people/orgs look to you for?
People reach out to us for support because they’re just not sure how to get people to collaborate effectively. Sometimes people are bringing divergent agendas to the work, or they’re getting stuck in seemingly endless discussions, or the group just seems ensure how to effectively address questions of decision-making, power, or equity. This is especially tough when they’re facing a challenge that’s really complex and multi-faceted, so it’s hard to understand what’s going on and where they need to focus.
Basically, we help people create the conditions for whole people to show up, to leverage their uniqueness and differences as assets, and to focus on what’s most important in the work to produce the kinds of systemic changes that are needed.
What problems can someone find solutions for on your site? Are there certain tools or resources that you’ve found especially popular?
Leaders who are having a hard time getting people to really work together often assume that participants are just there to “do the work,” so they over-focus on the “rational” aspects of the work—the agenda, the plans, the metrics, the data, the strategy. But people are also spiritual and social beings. We want to connect to a higher purpose in the work and we want to be seen fully by others and be accepted for who we are. We also want to have a real hand in contributing ideas and making solutions. This is probably why our CALM collaboration framework and the 6 Patterns in Collaboration are among our most popular resources—they really address how to genuinely engage whole people in collaborations, which builds real ownership of the work.
Also, since people have been really challenged by how to move all this work online, our two-page guide “Virtual Meetings for Clarity and Momentum” has been really popular lately as well.
Who can access your resources? How?
We give all our methods and tools away for free. Folks can find some of them at www.wearecocreative.com/tools and also see past webinars on various topics at http://www.wearecocreative.com/cocreative-webinars
What other resources or support are you looking for?
We’re always trying out new tools and methods and we’re currently really interested in online collaboration spaces that can best approximate the informal and emergent aspects of in-person events, so right now we’re playing with Remo and Discord, both of which are more flexible than Zoom in offering ways for people to connect online.
What other “resource-full” organizations would you recommend?
Here are a few less-known resources for collaboration and systems change:
CoCreative’s Pot of Gold The Tools section of our website contains many of our more accessible methods and tools while our (secret) Pot of Gold contains more in-depth resources, including our mini-lecture decks and manuals for some of our training courses, as well as some works in progress.
Academy for Systems Change System Leader’s Fieldbook has tools and resources to help people who are working on seemingly intractable problems.
The Co-Intelligence Institute’s Wise Democracy Project produces a card deck of 105 dynamics and design principles to build self-governance among teams, organizations, networks, and communities.
The Group Works Pattern Language Project also has a card deck is a collection of 100 cards of methods that leaders can use “to make things work.”
Service Design Tools is an open collection of tools and tutorials that helps dealing with complex human centered design challenges.
How can someone get in touch with you for more information?
Anyone can connect with us through Twitter, our website, or at firstname.lastname@example.org