In Col-lab we believe that theory cannot be separated from practice. The real background of our work is trying to adapt models to a changing reality. Nowadays, organizations need to manage and adapt to a system where cooperation, competition and coordination demands different attitudes, skills and practices.

For that we accompany and facilitate processes of collaborative change. We use a combination of techniques that mix analysis and workshops integrating methods that adapt to specific circumstances. Through that process we encourage: 1) that views and ideas are shared, through a number of agreed steps, 2) combining analysis and synthesis, in order avoid superfluous accounts and focus on findings, 3) balancing factual data and perceptions/opinions in order to address unspoken assumptions which very often lie at the core of resistances to change; and 4) an honest reflection, an open debate which will contribute to identify elements for ajoint agenda of transformation, which is owned and endorsed by all relevant stakeholders.

It is important to stress that we employ a step-by-step collaborative approach to our work, in which each product is open to comments, corrections and opinions. Like this we ensure that our products are tailored to the real needs of our clients and counterparts and we also ensure that the process encourages a permanent improvement of the quality of the contributions and, at the same time, the gradual construction of a consensual outcome.

For example, during the first months of 2015 Col-lab supported the Board of Directors and Managing Committee of the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in their internal reflection process to revamp its vision and strategy to the challenges of delivering official development assistance in the post-2015 environment. Our facilitation involved the following steps:

  1. Providing a clear-cut contextual analysis, which included an analysis of global development challenges and trends in the realm of Official Development Assistance
  2. Evaluating the governance and managerial structures of the organization and its operational modalities.
  3. Assessing the added value of the current state of activities of BTC and outlining a series of reform scenarios for the agency.
  4. Presenting a conceptual framework (vision) for the organization.

Those steps were accompanied with a permanent dialogue with both BTC staff and other key actors like, for example, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This collaboration crystallized in new Statutes for the Belgian Development Agency being approved by the Belgian Parliament at the beginning of 2016.