By: Kristen Boldt
The collaborative paradigm shift isn’t just about how we work with clients, it also applies to how we work with each other as a practice group. The environment we create in our practice groups influences the professionals we attract and how we interact with each other.
As we are designing our groups, we want to make sure that we are creating an environment that is in alignment with the innovative, collaborative work we do with clients. If we are working in the new paradigm with clients but using an old paradigm model to structure our groups we ask our members to stand with a foot in each world and make it more likely they will fall back to what they know when a situation gets stressful.
In contrast to the old model of bylaws, the Conscious Contracts® process creates sustainable, relational, values-based agreements that are designed to evolve over time. Unlike traditional contracts which are written from a standpoint of predict and protect, conscious contracts® are designed to sense and respond. The two main components in a conscious contract® document are the Touchstone and the ACED.
The Touchstone is created through a deep dive into our values and vision to ensure that we are all in alignment as we move forward. This helps us build trust among members and that trust contributes to an environment where we can ask questions, admit struggles, and help each other grow both professionally and personally.
The other component is the ACED or the process for Addressing Changes and Engaging Disagreement. Rather than trying to predict what might go wrong and assign a consequence ahead of time the ACED focuses on the tools we need to work through change or conflict when it occurs. Having an ACED in place helps us pivot out of our fight/flight stress response that leads back to the old paradigm and puts us on the road to resolution. The more we live these skills with each other, the better prepared we are to help clients create their new family systems.
Integrating Conscious Contracts® into my collaborative practice has added a new level to the paradigm shift. The shift we are making is about more than an out of court option or a new way of writing agreements. It is a system that encourages and supports approaching each situation with creativity, authenticity and integrity.