We at Collective Next spend a lot of time and effort designing sessions with our clients. During last week’s Transcribe (Transcribes are weekly chats during which we share what we’ve learned recently and figure out what it means to us and our clients), we discussed how effective collaboration doesn’t just happen. Like cooking a gourmet meal, it takes a lot of preparation, a deep knowledge of fundamental principles and innovative methods, and careful execution. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. 

It would be naive to assume that even the most well-designed session will go entirely as planned. We design our agendas to be flexible, which leaves room for the unknown. It’s in the unknown that there’s room for creativity and the possibility of the impossible. That is where magic happens (not the you-picked-my-pocket kind of magic, but the you-restored-my-belief-in-the-impossible kind of magic). Magic has many definitions, some bad, some good, most clichéd. For us, magic is the point in each of our sessions when we witness an unpredictable positive outcome.

Thoughtful design provides the structure that most effectively guides participants toward a positive unknown, rather than an unfavorable unpredictable outcome. We prepare participants with the wand and method, so when they reach that moment of unpredictability, they have what they need to harness the power of the collective and achieve something greater than any of them could have imagined. When this moment arrives, we cannot and do not want to be in complete control. Too much structure hinders innovation; too much flexibility promotes disorganization. Like a great magic show, when there is a true partnership between the performer and the audience, it is unclear who’s bringing the magic. Best of all, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the impossible can happen. 

(Thanks to Travis Martin for scribing this week’s Transcribe.)