Experimenting with new models of collaboration

Within the co-creation ecosystem of the Basque Country, in the last year we have worked in five working groups, as explained in the last blogpost. The networks and and mapping group aims to develop actions to raise awareness, make visible and explore links, both with co-creation agents and projects. Thus, in order to connect with the different local agents, on 17 November, within the context of Bilbao Bizkaia Design Week (BBDW23), we organised a workshop to experiment with new models of collaboration. 

This year’s BBDW23 focused on ARTICULATION, connecting two objectives. To analyse the relationship that design can have to improve and innovate our forms of organisation, production and life, and to reflect on how these forms can influence and improve the design ecosystem.  

With the aim of designing the workshop and valuing the preparation of the session, we created a specific working group with different representatives of the co-creation ecosystem. This working group was therefore in charge of organising the session and designing the experience. This allowed us to integrate the vision of the different working groups into the programme and enrich the narrative. 

In addition to the objective of sharing the trajectory, the lessons learned from the co-creation ecosystem and having the opportunity to connect with different local agents, we thought it would be interesting to further explore the structure and new relationship models of similar ecosystems and networks. In the co-creation ecosystem we have begun to experiment and reflect on some elements, including the question that became the focus of the meeting: How to build the path from individual leadership to shared leadership? What does design contribute to the construction of an ecosystem of these characteristics? 

With the aim of gradually deepening our understanding on the question, we began by underlining how leadership has evolved in our co-creation ecosystem. We then proposed a dynamic of mutual knowledge and asked each participant to position themselves according to the types of leadership proposed by the TEAL model, in relation to the functioning of their specific organisation or project. The different types of leadership were identified by colour:

  • Red: originates from primitive communities and is based on the powerful leader who exercises authority through fear. 
  • Amber: Hierarchy is not defined by power, but by status. It creates a long-term vision, a stable process and formal roles. 
  • Orange: Meritocracy challenges status and its advances include systematic renewal or shared responsibility among members of the organisation. 
  • Green: focuses on the well-being of all parties (customers, workers, communities, etc.) and turns it into empowerment of the organisation’s members. 
  • TEAL: is generated when an organisation combines self-management and efficiency. In addition to being a means to achieve objectives, it has an evolutionary objective. 

This exercise helped to represent the different leaderships and revealed that the boundaries between them are sometimes unclear. Although the TEAL model is the objective of many organisations, and it can be seen that this is worked transversally depending on the projects, from an honest reflection, among the participants, the tendencies towards orange and green stood out in the majority. 

Once the leadership models had been explored and the keys to their possible evolutions had been identified, we proposed the following experimental step to work on the conditions and modes of shared leadership. We formed 4 groups and each of them used and created different forms or artefacts to reflect on the proposed question: verse, theatre, object and graphic image. 

  • The artefacts allowed to capture the view in different ways and therefore we were able to conclude the following: 
  • The opportunity for each participant to reflect through the artefact of their choice made it possible to start the conversation from a first shared space, thus creating a space of trust. 
  • The need to create common spaces, to nurture and care for each other in order to bring out inequalities and to identify interrelationships and value all knowledge was seen.  
  • Generating or working on a new culture requires time and flexibility. 
  • Having a shared leadership and working in a space of trust is fundamental; if this is not well established, it is difficult to place the natural leadership of each person to serve the work team. 
  • Initially, the working groups were based on experienced roles when it came to taking the first steps. Naturally and organically, the process then allowed the natural emergence of other leadership roles. 

The meeting made it possible to introduce the co-creation ecosystem to different local agents and to create new connections. It has also allowed the connection with the different stakeholders who could not attend. 

Mantra – this verse, which was shared at the beginning, facilitates the path towards shared leadership, starting to internalise these words and actions by chanting them every day.

The co-creation ecosystem members are: Arantzazulab, Apitropik, Beta, Be&Lab, Colabora, Elhuyar, Emun, Farapi, Impact Hub Donostia, JM aholkularitza, Kutxa fundazioa, Maraka, Pez estudio, Tipi and Wikitoki. 

The networks and mapping group members are: Arantzazulab, Elhuyar, Kutxa Fundazioa, ImpactHub Donostia and ColaBoraBora.