Collabforge has just started on its 4th collaboration project in six months with the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (“OEH”). These projects have, and are, proving to be an excellent case study on how to build collaboration capability within an organisation whilst helping them deliver on core organisational goals.

OEH is a NSW government agency that protects and conserves the natural environment, Aboriginal country, culture and heritage, and built heritage (see more here).

Collabforge’s projects with OEH have largely focussed on the ‘Environmental’ aspect of OEH’s portfolio. As a snapshot these cocreation projects have been about:

  • Identifying how best to engage and interact with the diverse community organisations that OEH programs support
  • Designing an end-to-end process and supporting system to roll-out energy efficient appliances to vulnerable households in NSW
  • Fostering greater collaboration – and ultimately impact – on energy efficiency initiatives in the north-western NSW.
  • Working out how to make the NSW community owned renewable energy projects sector to become more self-sustaining within the next few years.

OEH2

An underpinning purpose across all of these projects has been to further develop OEH’s collaboration capability through deliberate practice – action learning.

At an organisational level, the demand for Collabforge’s services from OEH is indicative of something in the leadership and DNA of the organisation which resonates with Collabforge’s purpose and ways of working: creating the conditions which create scaleable and sustainable collaboration.

Not surprisingly at a more granular level the starting point for developing this collaboration capability has been different with different teams and individuals. One particular project experience that stands out so far has been with the Community Renewable Energy team (refer to the list above).

The core project team was open and agreeable to new ideas, ways of working and tools during the project. An example of this was their adoption of the Slack platform as the primary channel of communication within the project team. There were barriers to overcome ranging from IT policy restrictions through to the need to adopt ‘yet another’ platform. The team demonstrated that they were able to work through these barriers. As a result became active, fully-participating members of the Slack team and we were able to use this channel to enable faster communication, decision making and to generally be more adaptive to changes.

Related to this openness there was an experience of genuine collaboration (cocreation) rather than the traditional ‘transactional’ client-consultant relationship. We all felt and acted as if we all had an equal stake in the outcomes of our work. This was demonstrated in this OEH team’s willingness to actively engage in the solving of project issues and also in ‘getting their hands’ dirty’ in terms of workshops, interviews, research etc.

The experience, practices and outcomes of collaboration with the core OEH team on this project allowed us to scale the collaboration to additional members of their team, to members of their external community and to new OEH projects.

This is just a snapshot of the work that Collabforge did with this OEH team but is indicative of how we work and also of the type of attitudes and conditions that support genuine collaboration.

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