Working together as a European network
“This is a large partnership, which will create project coordination challenges. However, the partner organisations are united by a common ethical framework, set of guiding principles & working practices. The individuals are united by a passion for their profession and a can-do attitude, and we firmly believe that we will succeed in making such a large partnership work.”
This quote from the application form proves that we were aware of the challenges that might come with the size of this Partnership. In the “Lessons Learned” below, we reflect critically on the fact that we started into our kick-off meeting without having decided on a structure how to organize our work in this Partnership BEFORE this meeting. On the other hand, the question of how to deal with such a big and diverse project turned out to be part of important learnings for many people involved in the Partnership and it was important to witness how the quality of our collaboration changed and evolved substantially over the course of the 2 year project phase.
How we structured our work
We used an approach based on the observation of natural systems called the Viable Systems Model (VSM) to design the organisational structures of the EPT. This ensured that the work of the partnership was shared out amongst the participants and that there was cohesion between the groups working on the different objectives of the partnership.
The study of ecosystems and the way muscles, organs and the nervous system of the human organism interact, were the inspiration for the Viable Systems Model, which was originally developed by the English management cyberneticist, Stafford Beer. The VSM is used as a tool for diagnosing problems in social organisations, and to help to improve their functioning.
For a more detailed description of how we adapted the Viable Systems Model for the European Permaculture Teachers Partnership follow this link.
How we facilitated our meetings
The Process team of the EPT partnership was formed to ensure that each meeting flowed and was well facilitated. It prepared and hosted each meeting in collaboration with the host and coordination teams and facilitated each session using a number of techniques or active learning methodologies. Many of the Process team had a lot of experience in using Art of Hosting or Art of Mentoring approaches and each method used was explained to maximise the learning of all participants.
For a more detailed description of how we facilitated the meetings of the European Permaculture Teachers Partnership follow this link.
How we communicated in between meetings
The EPT-Partnership is a complex project involving a large number of people from the beginning. Communication tools play a crucial support role in preparation, inclusiveness and transparency of the the whole process of application and of implementation of the EPT-Partnership.
For and overview of how we stayed in touch and communicated about our work in between meetings and how we communicate to the outside world, please follow this link.
How will we stay in touch in the future?
In the future, our collaboration will have to adapt to not having regular meetings anymore. The main place to communicate topics and to get in touch with each other will be the general “EPT-mailinglist”.
What other forms our collaboration will take will be explained here later.