How to Integrate Open Collaboration into Your Project

Open collaborations are more open, non-hierarchical, transparent, participatory, and non-owned. Examples are Burning Man,  the Transition Town movement, Food not Bombs, Alcoholics Anonymous, gift circles, Wikipedia, open source software and the internet.
Here are principles to creating open collaborations that work:
  • Rapidly prototype, & iterate
  • Get immediate yields
  • Create feedback loops
  • Create gradations for involvement
  • Connect people with each other
  • Listen to and anticipate each other
  • Facilitate diversity and synthesis
  • Help individual passions flower
  • Allow autonomy
  • Create autonomous circles/guilds of people

Here are questions to think about to make your project more open collaborative:

1. Have you found people with a similar vision as yours?

2. Have you created a rapid prototype of your project. If so, what is it? If not, what might a rapid prototype be?

3. If you have created a rapid prototype of the project with collaborators, have you and some of these people created a next iteration of the project?

4. Are you helping satisfying individual needs?

5. Are you finding ways for individual passions to flower?

6. Have you created feedback loops so that you can find out how prototypes and iterations of your project has landed? If so, what are those feedback loops? If no,t what might they be?

7. Have you created a process that enables users of your project to co-develop the next iterations of it with you? If so, what is this process? If not, what might this process be?

8. Have you enabled a process which allows people to play multiple roles?

9. How well have you connected people with each other?

10. Have you created a safe space where people can listen and empathize with each other?

11. Do you have a facilitated discussion process that allows everyone to participate in the discussion? Core project people as well as more peripheral people.

12. Do you have facilitated discussion processes which allow a diversity of opinions and belief systems to be expressed?

13. Do you have a facilitated discussion processes which can assess, synthesize, and integrate different choices, viewpoints, and opinions?

14. Has your project facilitated autonomous groups to form? If not how might you facilitate these groups to form in your project?

15. Have you created a way for outsiders to become participants in your project?

16. Have you created a gradation scale of ways people can become more and more involved in your project? If so, what are these gradation of steps? If not, what might the steps be?

17. Do you have sandboxes where people can experiment around with parts of the project without fear of failure?

18. Do you have a way of incubating new ideas and projects? If not, how might you encourage that in your project?

19. Do you have metrics with which everyone can track to measure progress in the project?

20. Have you created a platform where people can constantly communicate with each other? What does this platform look like?

21. Have you created a culture that inspires people to communicate more compassionately and non-violently?

22. Are you using restorative justice rather than punishment in your group? What does this process look like for your project?

23. Are you creating a shared pool of resources that everyone can tap into?

24. Are you creating non-owned products and services?

25. Do you have ways that can allow people to gift? If not, how might you do so?

26. Are people listening to what the collective field is asking to emerge?

Alpha Lo is co-editor and co-author of the Open Collaboration Encyclopedia.


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