One question we ask at Hevas Innovation is: how can we create synergy within teams so their projects can succeed?
Developing the necessary skills a project’s success starts by forming links between team members, creating a collaborative vision, and making clear agreements about project design (Hinske 2014). With a collective vision, the individuals that make up a team become aligned for a common project beyond the differences in their worldviews and beliefs. With this alignment, they can work collaboratively and effectively. It’s common for team members to have different visions. Although differences are a rich source of diversity, when we’re talking about a team’s main goal, it’s important to have clarity and mutual agreements. Imagine if these conditions don’t exist and each person is working towards a different goal, what will happen to the project? On the other hand, if everyone is collaborating for the same common good, they can build a joint project in which everyone feels united.
At Hevas, we design workshops for multi-actor projects involving various institutions, from government and international sectors to civil society. One of these workshops was integrated into an ambitious project to bring about solutions to some of the socio-environmental challenges in Mexico. In conversation with team members, it became evident that each one had their own idea about what the project’s main goal was. They were all good and valid ideas. Nevertheless, their differences called for an exercise in reformulating and reiterating their collective vision. In this way, their team would have greater cohesion.
This cohesion is an important factor in success for multi-actor initiatives and alliances. Meaning, when the people involved in the project truly and openly feel the desire an possibility of collectively creating a better future through a joint strategy and collective vision. To do so, it’s necessary to have a clear and coherent objective that can unite all the members of an initiatives, despite their differences. (Kuenkel 2017) However, often teams lack clarity in their project’s vision.
This is why at Hevas Innovation, we propose and facilitate activities through which teams can find opportunities to consolidate their vision. We structure conversations such that teams reflect about their desired future and the possibilities they have to reach it. We do this in a way that enables all voices to be heard and valued (including alternative forms of communication that do not require the spoken word), spaces for individual and group reflection, and opportunities for collective construction and creation.
Starting from individual reflection is important since global transformation begins with knowledge of oneself and criticism of personal emotions, expectations, and assumptions (constructively, of course) (Richie-Dunham, 2014). In the workshop with the multi-actor team, we created space for self-knowledge and reflection as well as activities that catalyzed the transformation of these thoughts from being isolated points of view, to being a unified visualization of the possibility of creating a different future together. This way, we paved the way to harness differences and create dialgue to construct a collective vision.