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The Arc of Alignment as described by The Reboot
The Arc of Alignment as described by The Reboot

Over the past few weeks, a number of Meedan team members have been attending Reboot’s online series on Driving Transformative Collaboration. As the workshop describes itself:

COVID-19 demands that we build diverse coalitions to advance equitable and effective response efforts. These efforts must draw on the radical imaginations of our artists, the moral courage of our activists, the innovation of community organizers, the agenda-setting influence of our media, the values of our civil society leaders, the infrastructure of the private sector, and the reach of our public institutions.

At Meedan, we work at the intersection of a number of different sectors — journalists, academics, policy researchers, human rights workers, artists and others — at a global scale, and so this is a topic close to our heart. We wrote previously about insights we gained from the first event. Here are three more from the most recent two events:

Do the work before the work.

Working with different sectors and personas from all over the world, we found it really helpful to “do the work before the work” and understand our collaborators’ interests, anxieties and agendas before getting together. Knowing about their journeys and impact will allow us to introduce unheard perspectives and this can be extended to our collaborators themselves getting to know each other! We can do this by creating materials and sharing a synthesized version across the collaborators of a specific project, we can then ground on the communalities we have and we may think about a shared problem ahead of time.

Document document document. Even when it’s hard.

The Reboot team shared an all-too-familiar sentiment with participants about the often conflicted relationship that can be experienced with documentation – it can take quite some time to develop the documentation that teams need to stay organized and aligned, but these documents are well worth the investment. Keeping information up-to-date and organized can help to ensure expectations are shared and agreed-upon by the team, and a short-term investment in documentation can help prevent challenges in alignment in the future.

When everything’s important, create structures for alignment.

It can seem like everything’s important. And that’s true. But that also creates barrier for getting a project started. The Arc of Alignment that Reboot’s team articulated enables an excellent framework, which felt very much like a masterclass in meeting facilitation. “Brainstorm, with Bumpers” is something I think all program and product managers have to navigate, and the toolkit they’ve provided is one we use a lot at Meedan - facilitated conversation through structured whiteboarding and post-it sessions, followed by group prioritization. The brainstorming is part of the work, and with that necessarily comes tension. How teams navigate that tension is part of what distinguishes success from struggles.

This is part 2 of a two-part series.

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