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Collaboration Ethic

collaboration ethic


One of many on the list of process papers.

A successful “grassroots” involvement in any project involving a large number of people requires what you might call the “collaboration ethic”. It is essential because if we can’t follow these practical rules, Collaboration and grassroots democracy just can’t work.

1. Practice “deep respect.” Really this means treating everyone with the same respect that we treat ourselves. What we assume of ourselves is that: our opinion matters, that we speak with the best intentions, and that there is truth in what we say. Another way of thinking about it is that on any given day, it is highly likely that we are at least 50% wrong, and the best the we can do is learn from everyone else.

2. Participation rules: The participatory democracy requires adopting the opt in principle?. If you do not choose to “opt in” and then participate in the process you do not have the right to complain about the result. We must respect the process and respect people who have shown up for the process. Latecomers should not expect to have their opinions fully considered, and in the end of the process we all must stand by the results. Those who chose not to participate must respect the results.

3. Nobody “owns” an idea. Isaac Newton one said, in response to being called a ‘towering genius’, “It is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants”. There is no such thing as an original idea: the best we can do is craft and assemble old ideas in some new way. Some individuals do have a special ability for crafting ideas, but the ideas themselves are like the trees of a forest - they grow and thrive largely of their own accord.


collaboration, deliberation, civic best practice


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