You have no doubt heard the African proverb: If you want to fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together! It is echoed in the digital revolution, which promotes a culture of sharing and networking, and which makes it possible to imagine new ways of organising ourselves and working. Collective intelligence is one of them, but is it just the latest fad? That’s neither here nor there… try it for yourself and make up your own mind!

Co-development groups, which come under the umbrella of collective intelligence, are a powerful tool for professional performance and personal development with multiple fields of application.

What is a co-development group?

Adrien Payette and Claude Champagne (1997), developers of the original co-development methodology, defined it thus:

"The professional co-development group is a development approach for people who believe they can learn from one another with a view to improving their working practices. It is a structured consultation exercise using individual reflection and group discussion focusing on real life issues of the participants…"

To put it another way, co-development is an innovative learning process which originated in Canada, based on participant interaction, exchange of practices, mutual aid and collective intelligence.

What are the founding principles of a co-development group?

A co-development group has four pillars:

  • Verbalisation: even just talking about a problem allows progress to be made towards its resolution.
  • Co-construction: learning potential is maximised by different interactions which can converge but also diverge. Cultivating divergent thinking allows:

-    a given situation to be put into perspective by hearing several points of view
-    more than one solution to be suggested to the same problem
-    thinking outside the box 
-    thinking not only in a linear way, but by making connections and links between ideas that are seemingly not linked.

  • Reflexivity: the client comes to realisations that lead him to reconsider his position and call himself into question within the group. The client or the consultant each make progress through contact with the other.
  • Action: the session prompts the implementation of an action plan to improve performance.

How does a co-development group work?

A professional co-development group brings together a maximum of between five and eight people who have shared work issues and who want to learn from their respective experiences and cultivate collective intelligence through a six-step process. This process is structured around talking, listening and reflecting while at the same time being encouraged to take action (i.e. the original methodology developed by A. Payette and C. Champagne), all supervised by a facilitator/coach.

A special time is set aside for each member of the group.

The group meets on a regular basis, once a month, ideally over six months to a year depending on the number of participants, which guarantees a deeper understanding over time.

Three roles are necessary for the smooth running of the co-development group:

-    The client: who comes with an issue, and wants to be helped or challenged in his thinking and supported in his exploration and identification of possible solutions by looking at things from different points of view … The client changes at each session.
-    The consultants: whose contribution is to provide food for thought and broaden the client’s thinking with their experiences, views, suggestions and feelings.
-    The facilitator: in general, it is a certified coach who guides the Group through the six stages of the co-development session.

How does a co-development session unfold?

The process is structured around six consecutive stages:
- Step 1: Presentation of the problem, project or preoccupation 
The client presents the issue. The consultants listen.

- Step 2: Clarification
The consultants ask the client questions in order to clarify what is being said. The client replies, specifies or even reformulates what he is saying. The client’s demand may at this stage be subject to change.

- Step 3: Consultation contract
The client makes his request to the group and specifies the type of consultation desired, for example: “Help me to…"

- Step 4: Consultation
The consultants process the request and view the problem from different angles, to come up with solutions. This is a phase where ideas, suggestions, recommendations, comments, impressions, reflective questions, etc. come together.
The client listens, without saying anything and notes what emerges from the consultants' discussions.

- Step 5: Summary of what’s been learned and action plan by the client
The client listens to the consultants' feedback, assimilates the information, indicates which solutions they have chosen/areas of work that they have settled on and draws up an action plan. The consultants can help clarify if necessary.

- Step 6: Learning and assimilation
The client and the consultants describe what they have learned and evaluate the usefulness the session.

What are the benefits?

▪    Getting an overview
▪    Enjoying the benefit of different points of view and therefore collective knowledge
▪    Space to talk about things in a welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere
▪    Improving performance and efficiency
▪    Exploring ways of working, finding solutions or possible solutions to the problems raised
▪    Changing the frame of reference and moving forward
▪    Promoting awareness
▪    Building strong links with group members
▪    Etc., etc., etc.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try? If so, now’s the time!
To kick off the year 2020, Elizabeth TOUCAS, Executive Strengths Coach and Career Manager at IÉSEG Network, is inviting you to experience this powerful Co-development methodology by joining a group she is leading on the third Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 9pm.
A first “trial” session - so you can see how the process works - will take place on February 26, 2020 at 6pm at IÉSEG Paris (this will take place exceptionally on the fourth Wednesday of the month because of the February school holidays!!).
To take part in this exciting new initiative, click here to register quickly!

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