Service solutions that are bold, innovative and effective.

01 |  Collaboration by Design




 “Changing cultures one conversation at a time”

Think of a day at work when you wanted to get something done and you didn’t have the resources to do it. What did you do? Most likely, you had a conversation with someone you know and trust. The person you chose was someone who you’ve learnt to trust as your go-to person when problems are around. In fact research tells us that when people want something, rather than heading for an unknown expert, they will talk to people they know who may or may not have the knowledge. These people are part of our informal network – the go-to people that we learn to trust as we go about our daily work.  The most important factor in your success is to learn who to go to, who to go through and even who to go around in order to get your work done.

Now think of the last ‘transformation program’ in your organisation. A new operating model was decided on by identifying problems and working out where savings could occur. As a result, roles were spilled and new ones created. If you have been part of an organisation for over a year you are likely to have experienced at least one ‘transformation’ and spilling of roles. But roles are occupied by people and people form networks through which knowledge, information, collegiality and experience flows. Rarely is this taken into account. Transformation programs do the figures and identify the structures that need changing, but on the whole do not address in any consistent way the everyday interactions through which people get their work done. This is why change programs so often miss the mark.

Collaboration by Design is a program that addresses organisation change through people and their working relationships. As such it serves to complement abstract transformation processes by engaging people, thus avoiding the risk of diminished productivity as people struggle with new ways of interacting. The basic assumption is that the health and transparency of the informal network of an organisation is the secret of its success. If aligned with the change, transformation will occur smoothly without loss of productivity. If not aligned, resistance will slow it down.  By learning about the informal network and identifying its key cultural influencers and working with them on the change, the transition is fast and effective. And. as an added bonus the collaboration by design process provides the feedback and groundwork necessary to design and implement a targeted leadership development and to grow and embed a positive risk culture.


Collaboration by design is based on five principles:

  • Work is done through a network of relationships,
  • When there is a flow of knowledge and experience through the organisational network, productivity increases.
  • Organisational change requires a clear and compelling purpose that invites commitment from people because it is in line with their personal aspirations
  • With a clear strategy, purpose & vision, people are experts in how to get their work done, and they know best who helps them get work done,
  • Activating networks of key cultural influencers who support the change means it can be influenced and hastened.
  • Activating KCI’s who are also positive risk role models enables a positive risk culture.
  • If people are part of the change, they make the change,

Collaboration by Design has four steps, customised for each organisation:

  1. Mapping the Informal Network using Organisational Network Analysis (ONA), a proven scientific approach that reveals collaboration patterns and Key Cultural Influencers (KCI) who enable productivity. (Positive risk role models can also be included in the maps)
  2. Sensemaking workshop with internal project teams to discuss first order interpretations
  3. Insight and Action Workshops use the digital insights from the ONA to give insight into systemic black holes and bottle necks, KCI’s and linkages, hubs and gaps in the collaboration patterns. In the facilitation of local second order interpretations people, mobilise new productive relationships and gain insight into relationships being based on reciprocal respect.
  4. Collaboration Forums of cross-sections of Key Cultural Influencers (KCI) from across the business to plan, design and implement actions that realise the organisation strategy and purpose.
  5. Action Learning Groups that come together across the different levels and including the Key Cultural Influencers work on aspects of the change.


Collaboration by Design

  • Enables the identification of the key champions of change that are not otherwise known to leadership
  • Engages the people who do the work to improve organisation effectiveness, transparency, integrity and productivity,
  • Mobilises the diversity and innovation of the individuals that make up the organisation.
  • Activates relationships to maximise organisation agility while minimising the dependence on policy and process.



Collaboration by Design  – (www.collaborationbydesign.com.au) is a joint venture of Optimice (www.optimice.com.au) and Changeworks. With more than 100 social network mapping projects around the world combined with work in leadership, coaching and culture change for more than two decades, Optimice and Changeworks bring unparalleled experience and value.