— Zac Chase (@MrChase) January 29, 2016
There is no table big enough to give everyone a seat. There is no table that everyone would want to sit at, where we all agree upon why we are there. There is no table that even looks like a table to everyone else. It might look like a stage or a bench to someone else, and they might use it for their own purposes.
In fact, the only way to get everyone to the table for the same purpose would be to have everyone build the table together. From scratch. When everyone invests in building the conduit for conversation, they do not take anything for granted. When they have to construct next to the people they will be dealing with, they understand the hard work that has gone into collaboration even before it begins.
That is why you can’t create a template for everyone to follow.
That is why you can’t draw up talking points for everyone to stick to.
That is why you can’t invite only the people you know.
A liken this to a blank Google Doc. When you start a conversation, a blank Google Doc is daunting. It seems as though you haven’t thought it through. It seems as though it should require you to build something beforehand. But, it is the process of writing trust into existence that will sustain the conversation. You must get everyone into the Doc. You must get everyone writing and structuring. There are no exclusive notetakers. There are no rigid rules for the way in which you comment or contribute.
There are some that will add images. There are some that will add tables and navigation aides. There are some that will add heuristics. Still others will work on how the document will be shared and who will be invited to edit. In the best cases, the document is shared both via an open link that can be forwarded to anyone with even a tangential interest as well as a direct invitation to those who will passionately build with you.
And then you make time.
You make time to come back to the document. You make time to create, to comment, to delete, and to move around. You are not afraid of asking questions or proposing new ideas. You are not beholden to the writing that only halfway explains itself. You are looking for buy-in and not perfection. You are looking for authentic contribution and not wordsmiths.
This is how you build the table. This is how you get everyone to come and sit.