What do schools, universities, public bodies, professional networks, global corporations and national governments all have in common? That an enigmatic blob of human beings is their key to success.
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More monitoring tech, more management and more “evidence-based” intervention consistently fail to tackle ‘poor performance’ and other challenges when they approach human nature purely as an engineering problem that can only be solved by enforcing further technical measures.
Enter the Co-Creative Conversation, the logical, and necessary, evolution of Cooperative Learning. In constructive opposition to the next ‘new solution,’ this approach aims to marshal the collective intelligence of those who are directly involved in the problem and mobilise stakeholders around a (truly) shared vision. This is especially valuable to leaders who want to generate real buy-in, rally resources and understand shortfalls and potential obstacles. This is a tool for leaders ready for the collaborative, participatory ethos of the 21st century.
Co-Creative Conversation is potentially the needle in the filter bubble, the parliament of the population, the consensus point in the corporate crisis, the fall of fear politics, the guiding line of liminal leadership, the engagement of equals, the accountability of all.
Merging the Gurteen Knowledge Café and conversational leadership with Cooperative Learning, Co-Creative Conversation nurtures and channels the pure human joy of being seen, being heard, and making a difference together across roles and across personal, professional, racial, social and political divides. Depending on design, context and present delegates, it can empower participants, uncover resources, define terms, tackle personal and professional issues, gel delegates – or share knowledge and insight as we saw last week when lectures and leaders at University of Roehampton took on poor attendance and engagement.
The Co-Creative Conversation (at its current stage of development) involves 12 to 40 people in an explorative, stimulating and safe face-to-face exchange, and blends any mix of “authoritative input,” critical discussion and knowledge construction to achieve various outcomes, including learning effectively, drafting designs and even action planning. It is the ideal tool to unpick complex or potentially volatile issues with high stakes and many disunited stakeholders.
Co-Creative Conversation is the ideal tool to master that tricky fourth level of Knowledge Management of “Agency & Collaboration” which requires genuine negotiation of objectives and power. More on these levels in this article on KM and 21st century education commissioned by the ARK Group’s KMInsights.
Currently in development is student-staff relationships for QAHE and multi-school networking for Stirling Education in the Middle East. Get notifications of related posts on Twitter or join the mailing list for updates.
“…I didn’t understand it until I experienced it myself. The amount of information uncovered in that short session was overwhelming. We now have so much data to process…”
– Dr Constantino Dumangane Jr, Lecturer in Education and Social Justice, Programme leader, Department of Education at University of York, on Co-Creative Conversation at the conference ISLAM’S INFLUENCE ON MUSLIM YOUTH’S HIGHER EDUCATION ASPIRATIONS, York University, 25 Sep 2019.
Appendix: history & wider application
The concept took its first tentative steps six years ago, starting with Healing Fractures in 2014 and then, especially, Healing Fractures II which took place in 2015 following the Birmingham Trojan horse debacle, where Muslim activists, teachers, researchers and community activists sat down together in neutral East Anglia. It was then further developed for West Midlands Police, notably their Active Citizens programme under Inspector Noeleen Murrin in 2016.
“The attention to detail for active participation was innovative.”– Rob Abdul, Active Citizen, June 2016.
Co-Creative Conversation is the ideal tool for teachers, parents and local community in our planned collaborative design of a Participatory Budgeting programme in schools. It would also be an ideal tool for organisations like Ofsted to engage organically with teachers, heads, parents and students, rather than repeating the same top-down approach that has failed them consistently for decades. While an admirable step in the right direction, I have already discussed my concerns about online surveys and emails in Thoughts on CPD accreditation #2; Missing the (quality) mark.
Co-Creative Conversation is simultaneously the natural extension of the hyper-connected unfettered communication of the internet age, and its diametric opposite. Through personal encounters with equal participation and individual accountability insured by Cooperative Learning, what would have been a parallel shouting match on social media becomes an active listening exercise.
Students, lecturers, business executives, politicians or community stakeholders – Co-Creative Conversation lets us collectively take on the challenges we all face in the 21st century.
Some further reading
- Cooperative Knowledge Café; A Co-Creative Conversation on student engagement
- Co-Creative Conversation deconstructed: Comfy Café or outcome-driven classroom?
- Take Part: Empowerment & meaningful social action in the 2019 Framework
- Thoughts on CPD accreditation #1; Consultation or Conversation?
- Thoughts on CPD accreditation #2; Missing the (quality) mark
- Ofsted & The Co-Creative conversation
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