ABOUT

 

better is possible. collabyrinth helps for-purpose organizations pursue the transformative impact they want to have. collabyrinth helps for-profit companies find truly meaningful uses for their money and resources. collabyrinth helps communities/campaigns ensure a common good.

you’ll get to the better you seek faster and with the assurance that when you arrive you’ll be ready to handle whatever you encounter. let our powerful COLLABYREAKTHROUGHS give you the innovation strategy to turn your well-meaning into a well-doing that makes room for more and more stakeholders.  let our change tools, which we call COLLABYRAPPS, help you build the “muscle memory” for seeking equity in any interaction.  let our facilitated design forums, known as COLLABYRATORIES, help your courageous community risk across differences to try on new stories and scripts (better ways of thinking and doing), solve problems, and create new possibilities. with each completely customized solution, we help clients wrestle with not only how they might interact more effectively in the pursuit of their business, but also how they might interact so that the justice-orienting notion of beloved community becomes increasingly possible in everything they do.

beloved community may seem an odd thing to introduce into the realm of business services, but it is not. every moment of every day, with every action or reaction, we are creating the future–for the good or for the bad. as design innovators committed to positive social impact, collabyrinth‘s job is to help you get intentional about what you are creating as you do your work, so that the good in the world can begin to outweigh the bad. we use the language of “beloved community” to be clear about exactly what we consider good.

our core expertise lies in the ability to help diverse groups design together ways of working that create good for as many as possible. our design forums are called ‘collabyratories’ to remind participants of the need to risk “experiments with truth [and transformation].” using the DESIGNSHOP® processes of scan-focus-act, groups design detailed plans of action, securing each step of the way the buy-in of stakeholders needed to execute said plans.  the collaborative problem-solving and discovery learning processes of all our services arouse solidarity, cultivate transformation and help persons of goodwill make progress together.

 

people

melvin bray is principal consultant for collabyrinth. he is incredibly skillful at helping communities get where they are trying to go. as a curator, connector and collaborator of the highest order, melvin brings to bear a unique skill-set that is indispensable in almost any innovative endeavor. [more…]

additional facilitators are assembled as needed, depending upon the size and complexity of a client’s project, from a community of designers/facilitators who practice the same applied philosophy.

 

distinction

what makes collabyrinth‘s work unique is that it distinctly targets the most often overlooked aspect of the most pressing challenges facing our organizations, institutions, and society—persistently inequitable material outcomes. material inequities are the cause of nearly all current social upheaval. sadly, many want to believe that, if we can just learn to be nicer to each other, we might indefinitely get away with not addressing the inequities baked into our various systems and structures. but as the relentless recurrence of movements for justice demonstrates, that is not the case.

Spiral-Staircase-Arrows
one way to think of beloved community is as a spiraling staircase climbing toward a more just society. each major move depicted is foundational to the to the ones above it.

concepts like equity, diversity, and inclusion are core aspects of a vision for society that martin luther king, jr, popularized with the use of the term “beloved community”. collabyrinth thinks of beloved community as a progression toward overcoming persistently inequitable material outcomes–not unlike a 12-step program. some persons working toward beloved community help cultivate an initial consciousness and critical analysis of historic injustice. others help to raise self-awareness of how individuals and groups remain consciously or unconsciously complicit with structures and systems of injustice. still others help persons of routinely dominating groups develop cultural competency in relating to those of a different experience, while persons of routinely dominated groups work together to heal from the psychic wounds of prolonged exposure to inequity.

although we offer assistance in each of these areas, collabyrinth‘s most unique contribution to the progression that is beloved community is in helping individuals and communities of goodwill make the fourth move of better practices with and toward specific historically marginalized and vulnerable persons within arm’s reach. we rehearse with clients, “do better… don’t just talk, think or feel.” the object is to amend the damage done by what scholar imani perry identifies as “the practices of… inequality [and inequity]… actions that individuals take that researchers can identify as being clear decisions to disadvantage [or advantage themselves or] others on the basis of [social identity].” we don’t as much instruct as help you practice in order to develop systems and structures, policies and procedures, that turn persistently inequitable outcomes into equitable ones.

 

methodology

collabyrinth specializes in design-based collaborative problem-solving, using a justice-focused variation on a methodology known in corporate circles since the 1980s as DESIGNSHOP®.

the DESIGNSHOP® methodology is a collaborative use of indivisible processes, tools, environment and time that produces breakthrough problem-solving for participants on a consistent basis. based on the time-tested work of matt and gail taylor, rob evans, and their many protegés, full DESIGNSHOP® facilitations take place over 3-4 whole days and require facilitation teams of three or more working around the clock.

preparation for one of our collabyratories, which utilizes the DESIGNSHOP® method, begins no less than 4-6 weeks out with a discovery day–a 3-6 hour deep dive–with the sponsor design team. the sdt is usually comprised of 3-8 individuals including authorizing executives, project implementation leaders, and other key stakeholders. at this session we explore the need for the collabyratory, develop objectives for the session, drill into the crucial questions that need to be answered, identify potential participants, plan the preparation needed for success, and deal with session logistics (timing, venue, etc.).

whether conducting a full DESIGNSHOP® or not, we approach any engagement with the same appreciative inquiry and collaborative focus as would be expected in a DESIGNSHOP®.

 

stories

in addition to stories found on our GALLERY or EXAMPLES pages, here are real-world results from the use of the DESIGNSHOP® methodology:

  • Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain used the DesignShop process, tools and environment to create their redesign plan for the next decade. Instead of spending two years and $1 million designing, they achieved spectacular results through a three-day design forum at a fraction of the cost. Their plan generated even more benefits, including innovations that cut implementation time by 50%—to six months instead of a year.
  • A contract dispute had labor and management hostility raging on—long after the new contract had been signed. They needed to bury the hatchet, not keep sinking it into the other side’s car tires. A DesignShop session resolved the emotions, built trust, and forged warring parties into a productive team. It was so successful that the management and labor involved took this problem-solving process on tour throughout the US and as far as South Africa.
  • Colorado counter-culture types with a “for-purpose” dream, but with little business experience and tight funding, used DesignShop to design a rapid implementation plan to open a natural foods store. In three months, the first store was up and running, and became the basis of their multi-million dollar grocery chain—which is so successful that they now have to fight off hostile takeover attempts.
  • An opera company used DesignShop as a last ditch effort to prevent bankruptcy. Instead of the usual agonizing over how to raise funds, the process revealed a corporate taboo that had prevented the team from realizing that they were already sitting on a pot of gold. They discovered the untapped financial resources, reconceived proper use of their assets, and became consistently viable again.
  • High school principals—competitors for the same scarce funding—met as adversaries. During a one-day session, they restructured their relationships and moved into a pattern of profitable cooperation with no legal barriers. Years later, they continue to share resources and have made their resource pie bigger.
  • Using the methodology intensively over 22 months, a technical test center completely revamped their vision, their business, and their profitability. Arnold Engineering Development Center turned a 30% reduction in government funding into a 30% increase in commercial business, locked in $750 million in new business, entered strategic alliances that brought tens of millions of dollars worth of donated capital structure improvements by partners, and transformed a financially-crippled entity into a creative, dynamic profitable center of technical excellence.

Adapted from Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work by Gayle Pergamit & Chris Peterson