We encourage other women to form and work in a collective. In order to be successful, a potential collective must discuss the process to be used and each woman in the group must have a clear understanding of the shared nature of decision-making. Likewise, each woman must accept her part of the responsibility. And each individual must be willing to suspend some of her individual power so that the group can function well.

We encourage other women to form and work in a collective.

The benefits of collectives are many. We share and help each other. If you don't have the answer someone else is bound to have an idea, and when the group discusses an idea, the creative process is superior to one individual thinking alone. We learn new skills and polish old ones. We learn new ways of knowing. We develop trust and an appreciation for the talents and abilities of other women. We become friends and have fun. We produce a product that is worthwhile.

Force collective, sagesse collective

par Patricia Williams

En 1990, quatre femmes de la Saskatchewan ont décidé de former un groupe pour rédiger un numéro spécial de Women's Education des femmes sur l'éducation et la violence (vol.9, no 4). C'était la première fois que la revue était préparée par un groupe. Cette expérience a été stimulante pour nous et pour le CCPEF.

En groupe, nous avons pu associer nos talents et notre expérience, et tirer le meilleur parti du temps dont nous disposions. De plus, chacune d'entre nous a du se défaire de son pouvoir individuel; nous n'avons pas toujours fait les choses comme chacune d'entre nous le voulait, mais nous discutions de nos positions, les modifions, les expliquions et les clarifions jusqu' a en arriver a un consensus. Bien que cette méthode prenne davantage de temps, nous estimons que ses avantages sont supérieurs à ses inconvénients. Nous avons préparé un produit supérieur à celui qu'aurait pu préparer seule n'importe laquelle d'entre nous et personne n'a du assumer tout le travail et toutes les responsabilités.

Nous incitons fortement d'autres femmes a s'essayer a ce genre de méthode de création collective. Nous procédons a des échanges et nous nous aidons; nous acquerrons de nouvelles compétences et améliorons celles que nous possédons déjà; nous nous dotons de nouveaux moyens d'apprentissage.

Patricia Williams is a member of the CCLOW- Saskatoon chapter. She designs and give workshops on communication and does writing and research on women's issues. She is a member of the Saskatoon Women's Calendar Collective and, with Anne Elliott, Wanita Koczka and Pip Van Nispen, formed the editorial collective that edited volume 9 number 4 of Women's Education des femmes, "Learning and Violence: Women Speak Out" (summer 1992).

  1. Research on communication in small groups demonstrates that through the process of idea modification, groups are creative. "Actually the slowness of the group process and the inherent start-and-stop process of modifying decisions encourage creativity from group members. Each member has the time and the opportunity to mull over [her] own ideas and the ideas of others and exercise [her] own potential for developing new insights. Experts in creativity consider the incubation period essential to the creative process." See Aubrey B. Fisher and Donald Ellis, Small Groups Decision Making: Communication and the Group Process, 3rd edition, Toronto: McGraw- Hill, 1990.

  2. Groups arrive at decisions through an idea modification process that has several phases. One model describes these phases as: orientation, conflict, emergence, and reinforcement. See B.A. Fisher, "Decision Emergence: Phases in Groups Decision Making," Speech Monographs, 37 (1970), pp. 53-66; and Ernest G. Bormann, Discussion and Group Methods: Theory and Practice. (1975), New York: Harper and Row, pp.280-308 and 383-390.

  3. For instance, if there seems to be an impasse over an issue, the member who can step in with mediation skills might perform leadership functions for a time; in another group the situation might call for someone with specific information or experience to share. If the group has to organize many bits of information, the person with the best organizing skills might emerge as leader for that task. As the group needs change, as the situation changes, the leadership needs change. Style, which is sometimes referred to as an answer (as in, "you need x style of leadership to solve your problems") tends to be counter-productive in looking at small group evolution.

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