The Collective session is the pulse of the Collective. It is the platform used by the Collective members to meet, share, and reflect together. While most of the actual work of experimenting with the Practices and turning them into habits is done individually between sessions, the Collective sessions fuel the journey, drive it forward, and sometimes change its course.
There is no instruction book or one predefined agenda for running a Collective session. We recommend considering the following options and using them as building blocks in designing your agenda. Eventually, it is up to the Collective to decide what would be most effective for everyone. And needless to say, you can change the way sessions are structured throughout the journey based on the needs and desires of the Collective members.
Whatever options you pick to structure a session, also consider how to use it. For example, when Sharing an Experience, you can decide that only one member describes their experience and the others discuss it. Alternatively, you can decide that all members are expected to share their experiences. Setting the agenda in advance and aligning everyone’s expectations (and allowing them to prepare) as much as possible is an essential part of having a successful session.
Sharing an Experience
Sharing a recent creative experience is a great way to reflect on what works for you and what could work even better. It is an excellent trigger for a Collective discussion.
Using one member’s experience as a case study can help them gain insights and ideas for developing their creative habits and skills further. At the same time, it can help other members get ideas on what could work for them or how to approach their own challenges and opportunities.
Discuss the experience using the c.os model as a language. Consider what Core Functions you have utilized and which Core Practices helped you do so.
Sharing a Challenge
Sharing a challenge is an invitation to think together on ways to address it. When the group is diverse and does not share a common context or domain, the focus of sharing a challenge should not be technical. Try to avoid the domain-specific details as much as possible and use some level of abstraction when describing the challenge. Apart from being more engaging with other members, you just might discover new opportunities for addressing it when you abstractify the challenge.
In discussing the challenge, use the c.os model to consider methods for coming up with creative solutions. Use the Core Functions and Practices to find ways to approach the challenge and generate ideas. Don’t try to solve the challenge during the session, but rather consider what could help you doing so.
Reflecting using Cues
One of the most surprising and dynamic ways to reflect is to start with a set of questions. The c.os Reflection Cues are designed just for that. Each Reflection Cue includes a short list of questions revolving around one aspect of the c.os model or even one concrete Core Practice.
The Reflection Cues are great for individual reflection. But when used for Collective Reflection, they have an even more significant impact. Allow some time, preferably before the session, to muse on the questions (even without preparing their answers). During the Collective session, make sure everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts at least about some of the questions. You can discuss some insights and ideas as they are shared, or wait until everyone has shared their thoughts and then reflect on the diversity of answers.
Even if each member of the Collective is at a different place in their creative journey, aligning everyone on one set of questions is a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect together.
Open Discussion about a Core Practice
Another option is to use the c.os model not only as the language but as a lead axis for the discussion. To trigger a discussion, pick one Core Practice, read it together, and ask the Collective members to share their thoughts, insights, and experiences in the context of the Practice.
Members who have already worked on the selected Practice can share their experience. Others can think about integrating the Practice into their lives and what it could mean for them.
Remember that Core Practices are abstract by nature — they are designed to be interpreted and adapted to different domains and contexts. A Collective discussion is an excellent way to muse on the various possible applications derived from a Practice.
Similarly, you can discuss a Core Function, either before or after delving deeper into the Core Practices derived from it. In such a discussion, you just might come up with new Practices that could promote the application of the Function.
Defining the Next Step and Following Up on the Previous One
An essential part of any reflection session is deriving some action from it. In plain words: defining your next step.
The creative journey toward mastering The Creativity Operating System is not easy to plan, nor do we think it is practical to try doing so. At the same time, deciding what to try or do next is an essential part of keeping moving forward.
Allow some for the Collective members to decide what would be their next personal step and discuss what should be the next Collective step. Each member should define what they should personally do between now and the next Collection session. As a group, you should decide what the next Collective session will look like.
For example, a member can decide individually that they will work on a concrete Core Practice in the upcoming two weeks and try to experiment with it in Lab Conditions. Another member, who is already working with another Practice for few weeks, might take the challenge to refine it and Integrate it Seamlessly in their work. The Collective as a whole can decide that the next session will be dedicated to exploring the Play Core Function, whether members have already worked on it or not.
Make sure to allow some time during the next Collective session for each member to reflect and optionally share what they have done in the context of the actions they have defined in the previous session. It will help the Collective members to be more committed to whatever they planned.