EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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A Year of Living Positively -Day 181

The worst thing has happened in the process of writing and posting: I accidentally deleted today's entry when I was on an intellectual roll. I was busy copying and pasting from online blog to word processed document, and setting up the file for the printable pages of Volume Three, that a lost track of the copying and pasting and a new excerpt got lost. Darn it all! Because I started writing in the middle of this transferring of texts when I was reviewing my 180th entry and trying to edit and enhance it, and a rush of new thoughts came to me that compelled me to start writing just in that moment, I needed to cut and transfer the newly created text with the new ideas, but I forgot what I was doing and began copying and pasting old excerpts, and lost the new thing in the process.

I'll try to redo it, but I don't expect it to be as fresh. I was looking at my notebook and seeing what thoughts had tumbled out when I was experiencing the epiphany about dwelling on the topic of collaboration in the third volume of this blog when the latest ideas rushed forth. Let me try again.

I was saying how collaboration could be used in workplaces and institutions and how it could facilitate the democratization of such places, if allowed to be done. It can and should be applied instead of more autocratic methods to assess work and measure progress. Rather than threatening people with disciplinary procedures, providing incentives is better. Asking for ideas from all staff can operate as an incentive to get cooperation and better results that please all concerned. Sure, consultations and collaborations can be faked, or, worse still, used to egg people on to say what they really think then punish them for it. Where allowed and applied soundly, it can liberate relationships and minds and encourage problem solving by requesting people to voice experiences and opinions. It can make people feel valued, heard and included, and in a real way. 

This can be done by using journal writing with a positive perspective. First, by dwelling on the positive and looking at what has worked and felt better or won smiles, rather than looking for things to criticize and only talking about what is not working or uncomfortable, can make for a more secure, engaging, and productive atmosphere. For example, junior management or supervisors could be asked to keep a journal. Yes, people might feel inhibited and fear repercussions by saying something someone with more power does not like. With practice, however, I think that people could start to use it sincerely and address real issues. Writing  from a positive perspective, negative references or suggestions where people might improve their work and ways would come off sounding softer, and be framed in reference to positive aspects surrounding or relating to the situation or feature. That is to say that mentioning the good along with the bad is more likely to be received better. Saying what has worked well with what has not worked, or saying what someone's more positive contributions are together with what may not be so helpful or comfortable, can make the job of conveying criticisms and discussing improvements so much easier and productive.

Journal writing at a workplace, business or institution could be done among teams and not exposed to others, or it could be restricted to certain topics and themes so as to avoid irrelevant or inappropriate commentary and observations. It could be conducted anonymously but shared with the group. There could be rules guiding the discussion through journal writing. Journals might be done as a posting in a secure place where only those involved get to see the posts and take the form of a bulletin, a chat, a forum or editorial. Even journal writing done individually without sharing would help. However, collaborative methods would be best. Another way to go about it would be to have everyone write a journal then bring the journals to a discussion session (i.e., meeting) but have each person review their notes and share what they want to in the discussion, like something new they noticed, or their feelings at a certain point, or reflecting on a good or bad conversation. The point would be to encourage and facilitate collaboration in a timely and time efficient way without adding much to the daily workloads. In fact, it should function to reduce workload. With collaboration, work can be saved and redundancy and repetition avoided. 

Quality improvement can be achieved this way. Work can be monitored and what is working well and what is not more readily identified  and addressed. Organizations and businesses want to monitor all activities more for the sake of wise use of resources and fiscal and ethical accountability. It is reasonable. By including everyone related to the activity, in collaboration, more can be revealed and probably in a quicker and more direct way than spying or interrogating staff or customers about staff. Even customer journals would be helpful, come to think of it. Standards can be raised and the relations with and conditions of workers and clients enhanced by discussion among them. Noting thoughts in some form of writing would surely help because the journal style of talking about what seems mundane or the details of daily life can be pretty revealing and educational.

Furthermore, work and communication skills can be honed in the course of collaboration. Employed regularly, skills and habits of communication and interpersonal relations can improve. If writing is incorporated into the process, writing skills can also be worked on. 

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