Collaboration of Colleagues on Creation

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The Use of Technology to Support Collaboration:

We will be using The Eight Steps of Reflective Thinking to focus our thinking on the subject of creative collaboration. Please refer to the file for guidance.Dr. Russell A. Primrose, July 2003

This method is very effective in making a decision over a period of time by a person or a group.

Eight steps of reflective thinking are used to guarantee complete coverage of a defined problem area in problem solving. These eight steps are an extension of the five-step method proposed by John Dewey[1]. Dewy combined step 1 and 2, had no step 4, or Information Analysis, and had no step 8 or Feedback Analysis which has been added.

Whether you have 20 minutes or 20 weeks the time that is allotted for the study should be roughly divided into three parts or phases. Phase 1 is roughly composed of steps 1, 2, 3, and 4. Phase 2 is then composed of steps 5, and 6. Phase 3 culminates in steps 7 and 8, and a final wrap-up of the total study. Since the study iterates continuously, it is expected that changes may be made to any or all of the steps preceding where you are, right up to the final report. The phase boundaries are only used to change leadership, study direction, and/or study depth. The eight steps are as follows:

1.Problem Definition

a. Formulate the problem into a definitive statement.
b. Define any terms that might be misunderstood or misinterpreted into a working glossary. The definitions proposed are decided upon by the group, only for the duration of the exercise, and my not reflect all individual interpretations. This glossary will be a useful supplement to the final report document.

2. Problem Analysis

a. Diagnose the problem in terms of cause and effects.
i. Describe existing evils, effects or symptoms of the problem together with such interpretations and evidence as have significantly affected you thinking.
ii. Follow up with a statement of the cause or causes of the symptoms as you understand them.
1. State the probable cause of the symptom.
2. Give the factual material upon which your conclusions are based.
3. If the problem lends itself to more efficient coverage by subgroups, the problem should be divided among logical subgroups.
b. The problem definition should be modified continually as the analysis proceeds.
c. The results of the problem analysis should be documented in written form, and should include background information, and justification for the need of a solution to the problem as presented.

3.Criteria Selection

a. Create a concise statement of the standard or standards which in your opinion should be considered in judging the possible solutions.
i. Give special attention to the formulation of definite criteria for the judgment of a final solution.
ii. These standards should represent the values which you think are important and which should be considered in any solution.
b. Arrange criteria in order of priority.
c. Assign an arbitrary value or weight to each selected criterion from 1 to 10 with 10 being high, representing the arbitrary value of that criterion to the group.

4.Information Analysis

a. Identify the information still needed for a solution of the problem.
b. Gather, or make plans for obtaining the information still required.
i. Arrange an itinerary of expert testimony that can be scheduled to give information to the group about the problem as defined. Keep a careful log of the information given.
ii. Arrange for required interviews by individuals, subgroups, or group. Keep careful log of the information given.
iii. Arrange for the use of the needed libraries or repositories.
iv. The testimony of all experts and other information gathered should be carefully documented.

5.Propose Solutions

a. Using brainstorming techniques propose and record as many different solutions as can be thought of with no value-judgment being made.
b. Set forth those of the proposed solutions to the problem which you think merit consideration.
c. For each of the final proposed solutions a careful evaluation of how well each of the criteria presented in step 3 are met (The weighted factor analysis ). For each proposed solution an arbitrary factor of 1 to 10, with 10 being best fit, should be made for each established criteria. This factor should be multiplied by the importance factor assigned in step 3, and the collection of all of these numbers, one for each criterion, should be added together. The proposed solution with the highest number should be the leading contender.
d. Do the problem definition, the problem analysis, the criteria selected, and the information analysis still seem adequate (steps 1, 2, 3, and 4)? If the leading contender does not seem to be the one that should be picked, then you need to reexamine the criteria list for completeness, reexamine your feeling of how important each criteria is to you, reexamine your evaluation of each proposed solution as to how well the group feels that it meets the criteria, recheck the mathematics,--or believe what this exercise is trying to tell you. There may be hidden agendas present that are throwing you off and which must be incorporated.
e. Use the biggest part of the time allotted to the study in careful reiteration of steps 1 to ::5 to this point again and again to avoid premature selection. The selection process, steps 6 to ::8, should result in implementation and not rationalization for a premature and inappropriate selection.

6.Select Solution(s)

a. Using the technique suggested in step 5-c or whatever means the group chooses, select a tentative solution.
b. Declare the basis for your solution, such as:
i. The solution deals adequately and practically with the problem.
ii. The solution measures up best in terms of the standards and criteria.
c. List the details of the proposed plan.
d. Discuss and acknowledge the disadvantages, the advantages, (use the PMI method suggested by deBono ) and the other aspects of the proposed plan.

7.Implement Solution(s)

a. List possible methods of putting the proposed solution into operation. Document the facts and the ideas used.
b. Develop a workable, practical method of scheduling the solution into operation.
c. Prepare a time-sequence analysis for implementation of the plan.

8.Feedback Analysis

a.Establish suitable quantifiable measures of performance which can be used to monitor and evaluate in some way the operation of the selected solution. Compare the expected level of operation with the established criteria in step 3.
b.Establish necessary criteria for determination if successful operation has been attained or if additional correction is necessary.
c.Establish method for the reevaluation of the solution as to its elimination of the problem, its provision for the obsolescence of the proposed solution, or for the consideration of a significant change of the problem situation. Provide for our “help” to self-destruct in not needed.

Guidelines and Ground rules.

  • To participate a person must be fearless in creating an account, logging onto the WIKI page where the study is being done, getting into the content, and making the expected contributions as called for. Remember, all changes can be undone, so no permanent damage is likely to occur that can not be corrected. The guidelines for formatting are linked to the main page. Other help is provided on the same page. So get in and get it done! We may need to add a sandbox or training page to encourage participation.
  • Any on the participating team must promise at least two completely fractured, totally devastating frustration bouts, completely prayed through each time, before quitting the project.
  • Common courtesy and understanding for the other team members required.
  • Each team member is to get a log-in name and password, and log into the wiki page at least once a day ready to make corrections, improvements, contributions, or additional add-on development as needed.
  • All interviews, phone calls or contacts and to be documented, made available to the entire team, and referred to often. They are to referenced into the generated material where appropriate.
  • Any materials generated from this study will be under the nam;e of the whole group unless exception has been made.

1. Problem Definition

  • We have a problem of effectively generating and distributing, in a timely manner, current, up-to-date material in support of our evangelistic effort world-wide.

2, Problem Analysis

Hopefully the politic of turf protection or job security never becomes an issue. Like someone said: "isn't it amazing what can be done when we don't care who gets the credit". Some of our problem stems from the following:

  • Increased Demand. The increase in the number of Christians and Christian workers has resulted in an increase in the demand for discipling materials.
  • Present Method. At present we are limited to supplying printed material by the time proven method of composing, editing, proofing, printing and distributing the hard copy. Some progress has been made in providing evangelical material in electronic form to facilitate salvation decisions. Even when done as economically as possible, producing needed material is still labor intensive for writing, editing, printing, and proofing, as well as for royalties, and raw material costs.
  • Right Knowledge The right knowledge and expertise focused on the generation of needed material can be efficient, however:
  • Needed expertise is often spread over great distance.
  • Only a few people can effectively collaborate deductively.
  • Travel is very limited in funds and by distance.
  • Exchange essential Complete and rapid exchange is essential in producing an acceptable product in a timely fashion. Although we have tried sharing by mail, talking by phone or sending e-mails, most real-time collaboration has been limited to side-by-side cooperqtion, or produced by one person. Travel is expensive, conference phone calls impact schedules on both ends, and e-mails seldom have the latest version to work with since thoughts cross in real time.
  • Conference calls and e-mails are useful but limited.
  • Conference calls demand a fixed time in everyone's schedule, seldom have a printed record of what transpires, and sometimes are not clear.
  • E-mail messages can cross each other and if being shared by more than two can become very confusing.
  • The sharing of hard-copy for sequential editing is very slow and always susceptible to loss of or damage to the original document.
  • This may be why there is not more collaboration on a single project between more than a limited number of individuals.
  • Material Obsolete Handbooks and manuals are locked into the last batch printed, and are devoid of any updates that have occurred since the printing. After all, we must have an inventory of some size and we must sell it to recoup our investment. God may not change, but our methods as humans do. Manuals, instructions or descriptions become obsolete immediately.
  • Inventories must be printed and can not be changed until mostly sold and a new printing initiated.
  • Anything tied to a moment in time becomes obsolete as time passes it by. Yet it frequently needs to be updated often and the changes made available to the user.
  • Distribution Difficult. Hard-copy is difficult to get across some boundaries to the need.
  • Hard Copy Eventually Information can not be left in electronic form forever and must be reduced to hard-copy eventually.

3. Criteria Selection

  • Mission. We need adequate material produced to support our evangelical mission.
  • Cost We will need a method, or methods that will be as ecconomical as possible.
  • Good Contact. We need some method of providing a presence of the other contributors, all working on the same latest version in near real-time
  • Protect Present Investment. We need a method that will protect our present investment in a state-of-the-art printing capability.
  • Allow for Individual Schedules. We need a method that will allow for individual schedules as much as possible
  • Lowest Cost. We need some way to work at the lowest financial cost that will still be rewarding.
  • Material Current. We want our generated material to be current, and to minimize the obsolescence factor.
  • Generated worldwide. We need a way that cooperative collaboration can focus our best talent even if it has been assigned foreign location.

4. Information Analysis

  • True Cost We will need some testimony as to the true cost of the present method, as all proposed methods.
  • An audience of Critics. We need to identify a number of recognized experts in the fields of creative generation, learning, and distribution of material. We would want these people to read, critique, and offer suggestions for improvement of the documentation as it is produced. These people would probably not be charged with the document formation.
  • The Working Group. We would need a select group of people, gifted in collaborating and teamwork, to pull the material together into a presentable format.

5. Possible Solutions

6. Select Solution(s)

7. Implement Solution

8. Feedback Analysis


  1. Dewey, John; "How we Think", p 4-16, 108-118, D. C. Heath and Co., 1933
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