Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

3 July 2012

Piecing together collaboration and cooperation: The Coherent Organization

Clark @ 5:48 AM

In an insightful piece, Harold Jarche puts together how collaboration and cooperation are needed to make organizations work ‘smarter’, integrating workgroups with the broader social network by using communities of practice as the intermediary.  This makes a lot of sense to me, and I was inspired to take a look at the practices within those categories.  (Jay Cross has explored different facets of the implications of this way of thinking and talks about how we are building on this.)

Working Collaboratively and cooperativelyIn this depiction,we see behaviors of effective collaboration within work groups, such as coaching each other, using good practices for brainstorming, the elements of a learning organization, being willing to admit to problems, and being willing to lose if you don’t lose the lesson.

At the next level, communities of practice need to continue to evolve their practices, sharing issues and working together to resolve them.  Within these communities, sharing pointers as well as deeper thoughts are mechanisms for ‘stealth mentoring‘ and explicit mentoring is valuable as well.

At the outermost level, social networks are about tracking what’s happening and who knows what, looking for developments in related fields as mechanisms for improving designs, and sharing practice is a way to give back to the community.

At the intersections, you need practices of both sharing outward and bringing inward, always looking for fresh inspiration and valuable feedback. The transparency provides real value in developing trust among the constituencies.

I put reflection underpinning all of these, as a core practice.  Reflection is absolutely critical to continual improvement in every area.

Note that the firewall tends to cross the middle of the diagram, and by blocking access you’re effectively cutting off a portion of the corporate brain!

This should not by any means be considered definitive, as it’s my first draft, but I think it helps (me, at least) think about what practices could accelerate an organization to be both effective and efficient, able to move nimbly to deliver ongoing customer delight by continual innovation while executing as well. We’re thinking about this as the ‘Coherent Organization’, aligning the flows of information, and aligning the work with the organizational goals.   As always, I welcome your feedback: what should be added, removed, modified, etc.


  1. […] and partners are increasingly privy to what was previously considered insider-only information. Clark built on Harold’s post and presented a model of effective collaboration within work groups, […]

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  4. […] problems. Usually this is individual, but how might it be greater than that? I think back to the Coherent Organization, and how folks are collaborating and cooperating in moving the organization forward. There’s lots […]

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  5. […] and the topic wandered over to how to use the social approaches we foster under the umbrella of the Coherent Organization to help organizations become one. And I went feral. Do we work top down, or bottom up?  In the […]

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  8. […] The other meme from the retreat event last weekend was the notion of leadership for complexity.  A few of us decided to workshop a topic around performance, leadership, and technology.  We realized technology was only a means to an end, and the real issue was how to move organizations to optimal performance (e.g. the Coherent Organization). […]

    Pingback by Internet Time Alliance | Leadership for Complexity — 21 March 2013 @ 1:39 PM

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