Future Works In The News

The New Heard Mentality: My First Strategic Collaboration

As a designer, it’s (usually) pretty easy to get a group of people on the same page, especially when we’re looking at a tangible design together. It’s simple to say, “We need bigger text” or “Add more yellow.” But how do you reach a consensus on more abstract concepts and causes? How do you gather dozens of unique and honest opinions? Perhaps most importantly: How do you align key opinions into a concrete plan of action?

Strategic Collaboration

Future Works Alliance PHL is using a proven process and software from Founding Member SchellingPoint, which allows groups of people with a wide array of lived experiences to work together easily. The process encouraged me to be truthful – as if I was talking to a friend – without fear of judgment or conflict with others. Ultimately, the aim of the process is to get our group aligned and moving on new outcomes and viable solutions with wide support. It was time well-spent, and I’m excited to see it realized. 


For the first strategic collaboration, Future Works Alliance PHL chose the topic: Creating a 24-month Communications Program about Future-Ready Careers. Once the topic is set, we were ready for the first four steps. Everyone can participate in the virtual dialogue of the alignment cycle. You can read some background on this topic here.

Step 1: The Self Interview

Four prompts stirred responses with life experiences in mind.:
  • In 2 years, what outcomes would be needed to say: “This communications program was a great success!”? 
  • What negative side effects could be triggered? 
  • What could prevent it from being a complete success?  
  • What are the key assumptions supporting my opinions? 

There is no timer. You have ample time to reflect and edit before hitting submit. Some people take 15 minutes, and others may take 90 minutes. On average, the first step takes 20 minutes. 

Step 2: Agree or Disagree?

After a week or so, we were then invited to read others’ opinions and privately indicate agreement or disagreement. We reviewed a comprehensive list of unique and relevant opinions expressed by a group of 62 people. On average, people need less than 10 seconds to agree or disagree with an opinion. This step took me about 20 minutes to complete. As I read through the whole group’s opinions, I was impressed by how many great ideas and interesting perspectives were in the mix. 

Step 3: Seeking Alignment 

In Step 3, we all received a shortlist of certain opinions and learned how they compared to the group. We could share our reasoning anonymously or change our minds. The shortlist of opinions showed where there was an outlier or where the group was not aligned overall. This step gets to some deeper insights. Maybe you wholeheartedly agree with several opinions, or maybe you’re the outlier! Either way, the group as a whole is learning transparently and compiling valuable information. The method is an open but anonymous way for everyone to share convictions, and prevents peer pressure or herd mentality.

Step 4: Measure What Matters

Now we were at the mid-point of the alignment cycle and we were invited to convene, measure and discuss the findings. How aligned are we as a group? What opinions are endorsed or rejected? You can watch the video below to learn the answers to those questions. We also all received a personal report showing how our sentiments aligned with the whole group. For this topic and alignment cycle, our group has a very strong start. There are a few more steps in the process underway. In the meantime, you can watch the video to see how the virtual dialogue portion works and learn a bit about our first topic too.

How It Works:

You can be heard too.

The Future Works Alliance PHL will use this strategic collaboration process to make decisions and build the Future of Work Playbook. There are many important and urgent collaborative projects needed to create a more resilient regional economy and talent pool. We now have the best available method for rapid and effective strategic collaboration.

This technology is also efficient, transparent, and reflective of the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you’d like to participate and lend your expertise through one (or more!) of these efforts,  simply sign up here, and keep an eye out for invitations to strategic collaborations on future topics of interest to you. Feel free to suggest topics through the form too. Of course, Future Works Alliance PHL also welcomes your tax-deductible donations to support this work. You can donate here

Written by Core Member, Becca Refford.