persistently inequitable material outcomes are the problem inciting all the current social upheaval. better is possible. collabyrinth helps your community of goodwill create better systems and structures, better policies and practices, that turn persistently inequitable outcomes into equitable ones.

you’ll get to the equity/diversity/inclusion you seek faster and with the assurance that when you arrive you’ll be ready to handle whatever you encounter. let our powerful COLLABYRVATION process give you the breakthrough innovation to turn your community’s well-meaning into well-doing that increasingly makes room for more and more stakeholders.  let our transformative tools, which we call COLLABYRAPPS, help you build the “muscle memory” for seeking equity in any interaction.  most uniquely, 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 we help clients wrestle with the question: how might we interact, even in the pursuit of our business, so that the justice-orienting notion of beloved community becomes increasingly possible?

our design forums are called ‘collabyratories’ to remind participants of the need to risk “experiments with truth [and transformation],” to borrow a phrase from gandhi and an idea from desmond tutu. using the DESIGNSHOP® processes of scan, focus and 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 collabyratories arouse solidarity, cultivate transformation and help persons of goodwill make progress together.



DSC_0247melvin 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 also practice the same applied philosophy.



equity/diversity/inclusion are aspects of a vision for society that martin luther king, jr, popularized with the use of the term “beloved community”. we think of beloved community as a progression toward overcoming persistently inequitable material outcomes–more like a 12-step program than a continuing ed seminar. Spiral-Staircase-Arrowssome 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.

one way to think of the progression described is as a spiraling staircase of self-improvement. another is as multiple pillars of the foundation of a more just society. each of these pillars is important and somewhat requisite to the work of collabyrinth.

collabyrinth‘s unique contribution to the progression of beloved community is to help individuals and communities of goodwill make the additional move of doing better with/toward specific historically marginalized persons within arm’s reach–not just talking, thinking, or feeling better. the object is to address what renown 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 habits and structures of beloved community.

practice can run along one of two parallel tracks. equity, diversity, inclusion and other aspects of beloved community can either (1) be practiced in design sessions exclusively focused on the particular problems a community has created around race, faith, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or environmental stewardship or (2) be practiced while a community is addressing some other general challenge or opportunity. collabyrinth‘s collaborative design facilitation makes tackling any complex challenge easier.



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®.



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