Skill Building for Collaboration – Full Session Descriptions


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Session A: Demystifying Systems Mapping

Location: Holcim Gallery


Systems mapping is incredibly useful for seeing and understanding the relationships and interconnections between system components. It is through this understanding of relationships that we can best target interventions to shift the system. Developing systems maps can also be very helpful in building a shared understanding of a system among a diverse set of stakeholders. This session is for people who hear or sense that they need to conduct some systems mapping within their projects, but are not sure (a) what options exist – in form and function, and (b) how to choose from the available options.

The session will showcase various different approaches to systems mapping, using real-life examples. The session hosts will present an approach to help you decide what kind of systems mapping approach you may want to utilize in your project. A sample case-study will be conducted within the group to play with one example of a systems mapping approach, and then the session will conclude with the provision of a series of resources that participants can take away to apply to their own situations.

As a participant, you will leave with a better understanding of the options available, and a process for deciding what option to select for your particular situation.

Presented by:

Steve Williams
President, Constructive Public Engagement

Kelly Hawke Baxter
Social Innovation Consultant and Board Member, The Natural Step Canada


Session B: Intelligent Failure: Practical Tools for Learning, Innovation, and Resilience

Location: Blakes Room


It is rare for new ideas and insights to turn into successful programs on the first try. Even tested approaches don't always go as planned. Failure happens. The question is: How do we fail intelligently? How do we create space for innovation, build resilience, and harness the productive potential of our failures? How do we move from thinking of failure simply as disappointment or waste to focusing on the propellant and productive side of failure?

In session, participants will explore what intelligent failure means in their context, participate in hands-on, interactive activities and engage and learn with peers to discover easy ways to apply intelligent failure practices that align with organizational needs. Participants will walk away with tangible skills, insights and actions that help them, and their organizations, fail better.

Presented by:

Ashley Good
Founder and CEO, Fail Forward

Saralyn Hodgkin
Director, Collaboration Programs and Evaluation, The Natural Step Canada


Session C: Collaboration Beyond the Buzzword: Tactics for Lasting Results

Location: BMO Atrium


While we all know collaboration is critical to achieving the systems-change many of us are working towards, the real challenges of creating and maintaining momentum for our collaborative projects are often glossed over.

This session is for people interested in tackling the challenges that come with a collaborative approach – everything from the work taking longer, to losing participants’ interest, to being comfortable with how and what control is given to each participant.

In the session we’ll break into small groups to adapt and apply a proven approach for creating and sustaining community-based collaborations.

You will leave with specific tactics to build into your collaborative ambitions. We hope to inspire participants to collaborate in meaningful ways, knowing that “the juice is worth the squeeze”.

Presented by:

Mike Morrice
Founder and Executive Director, Sustainability CoLab; Founder, Sustainable Waterloo Region; Ashoka Fellow

John Purkis
Senior Associate, The Natural Step Canada


Session D: Enhancing Your Inner Leadership Capacities for Better Collaboration

Location: Meeting Room 2


“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.”
- Bill O’Brien

Many of us are being asked to help host, steward, or contribute to collaborative initiatives that lead to transformational change. It’s demanding work. We’re pulled in many directions, provided with many conflicting opinions.

What leadership – what inner capacity – is required of us, if we hope to be successful? How do we maintain a feeling of calmness and clarity?

In this workshop, we will explore a model of 9 leadership capacities which successful leaders find essential in their lives, both personally and professionally. We will learn how to cultivate these capacities, and then we will invite you to begin integrating what you learn via participatory activities related to one or more of the 9 capacities.

As a participant, you will leave with a better understanding of the 9 leadership capacities, and links to the resources available. Further, you will learn what specific practices have been found effective by other leaders to help cultivate these capacities, practices which you can immediately begin implementing in your personal and professional lives.

Presented by:

Esther Speck
Sustainability Consultant, Speck Consulting; Past Director, Sustainability and Community, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

Tamara Connell
Director, Sustainability Literacy and Communications, The Natural Step Canada