Building collaboration capacity for biodiversity

Collaborating like never before for the health of Country and community in Victoria.

In late 2019, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) sought help from Campfire Coop to build their capacity in co-creating the culture, and hosting processes that would support real and long-lasting collaboration. They saw improving collaboration as key to achieving their Biodiversity 2037 goals. 


Two dozen leaders and team members from across six regions joined together in Melbourne for two days to learn and practice what collaboration meant to them. We introduced the team to one of our core hosting practices, sitting in a circle and using a talking piece. This always feels a little risky in more formal settings where speaking what really matters is not always encouraged, and the DELWP team really embraced it. At least one participant thought that “being brave” was an important ingredient for collaboration – and we agree! 


We introduced Groundwork as a practice for cultivating the conditions that enable powerful collaboration. Groups spent the rest of the day working through the six foundations of the model and applying them to their own context. 


Day two began with Open Space Technology. We asked “What are the conversations we need to have now to move our projects forward?” After some hesitation, people embraced the idea that they could convene important conversations about things they care deeply about. So much so that we abandoned our original workshop design and spent most of the day in Open Space. It was clear that that was what was needed at the time. It was emergent and unexpected, but that’s what working in complexity requires: listening and sensing into what’s waiting to emerge. And it did. 


Participants left with more direction and a renewed confidence from drawing on each other and the deep understanding that the knowledge needed for their project already exists amongst the team. They also left with a realisation that, “this work never ends – it’s a constant practice.” 


We were called back several months later to support one of the teams in developing their capacity for collaboration even further. Their good work continues for the future of biodiversity in Victoria.



In the words of ...


Participants:

  • We need to see each other face to face. I’m learning the value of that.

  • If you’re bashing your way through dense vegetation, you’re still getting somewhere!

  • Human diversity is amazing and somehow we can share a general direction

  • Time for me and all of us to step up and take the lead. It’s not always clear, just give it a go

  • I’ve learned more about the project in the last two days than in the last 18 months

  • Learning that the best resource we have is us

  • The power of listening – not looking for something, waiting for it to emerge, and it did

  • Collaboration is a bit messy. If I’m centred and with my team then everything is fine.

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