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June 2012

Collaboration Rumination #1

Wild_phto_MilenkoThe foundation of our work at the Pomegranate Center is collaboration.  Here are a few thoughts about collaboration collected from notes I have written to myself over the years.

Collaboration is a fluid, interactive state where the parts have power to influence the whole while the whole influences the parts.

In collaboration, teamwork and individual excellence are equally required: as in jazz, the greater the individual virtuosity, the greater team virtuosity.

Collaboration should magnify individual greatness rather than deny it.

Collaboration requires coexisting differences, not sameness. Where there are differences there are tensions.

The purpose of tension is to create a field where creativity grows.  As long as there are differences, tension is there to stay.  When one is resolved, another appears.

Working willingly with tensions is the prerequisite for collaboration.

Modern cities and communities are filled with differences—people from myriad cultures, ideologies, religions and world-views, all expressing their values and talents.  These differences (and their inherent tensions) are our greatest, and most untapped, asset.

Collaboration’s purpose is to relate to each other in such a way that typically irritating differences can be transformed into valuable gifts.

To turn differences into gifts requires strength and flexibility.  It involves the confidence to express ideas and the humility to adjust them to those of others’. 

This requires us to stand in one’s center while falling into the unknown-a demanding circus act.

Portrait of Henri Matisse 1933 May 20Portrait of Henri Matisse 1933 May 20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To hear and see without instant misrepresentation and distortion is an act of utmost bravery. Henri Matisse stated long before our pop-culture that everything we see is more or less distorted by acquired habits and ready-made images that are to the eye what prejudice is to the mind. To see through the noise takes courage.

In collaboration we rely on others to help uncover the greater truth of any situation.  One of the most powerful sentences is one of the simplest: And what do you think, observe, understand?

Avoid jargon that is the language of lazy shortcuts and presumed shared assumptions.

We are all smart in some areas and ignorant in others.

Collaboration is about increasing our collective smartness and decreasing our collective ignorance.

This requires a mature degree of self-knowledge where we claim not only what we know, but also our gaps, acknowledging deep oceans of blissful ignorance.

When lazy, we talk only to those who are alike which is just another form of talking to ourselves.

Collaboration is only possible when all parties are willing to step into the empty space beyond pre-existing ideas where mutual discovery is possible.

Collaboration is not possible between fixed ideas.

When we are able to share our different “smarts” we quickly realize that, amazingly, together we know more and that together we are able to accomplish what no one individual or group could separately.

We discover that the results of collaboration meet many important goals at the same time.

Collaboration is next step in our evolution. We are all invited to practice.

Our world is a school where collaboration is the main lesson plan.  We have all been invited to enroll into collaboration kindergarten.

I trust that very soon we will be able to move to the elementary school.

Milenko Matanovic

6.15.12

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