Taking Risks Is Sometimes the Answer

By: Gayle Dendinger Issue: Innovation, Growth, Job Creation Section: Letter From The Publisher ICOSA Magazines

ICOSA is thriving! And when I say thriving, I mean it.

I should apologize for my enthusiasm, but I won’t, because since its inception, ICOSA has made some truly noteworthy advances. And while I am excited about the direction of ICOSA’s future, it is only through each past experience that the magazine has grown to be what it is now.

Looking back, I am exceptionally proud of the connections that we have made over the years — whether it is our writers, our connectors or our collaborators — we have all taught each other something about collaboration. The magazine has become a tool to share the stories of people and groups across academia, business, community and government who truly affect change.

In 2005, during a staff meeting, I shared materials that I had researched on the fundamental principles of collaboration. As an enthusiast of symbolism, I was struck by information on the Native Americans portrayal of animals and how each one is representative of patterns in nature. Grasshoppers, for example, represent messengers of good news that benefit the entire community, while the bear represents protection, strength and the progeny of the tribe.

As I continued my research of this lore, I found that certain creatures exude characteristics that are essential for their collaborative models to endure. It was through this exploration that my staff and I decided to write a book about these characteristics and their relation to collaborative efforts.

It was shortly after our decision to write the book that I met the business school dean from Colorado Christian University. I spoke with him in depth about the book and he offered us the opportunity to teach a leadership course entitled, The Building and Deployment of Connection and Collaboration. As a result of the experience with these students, we were able to finish our book.

Nearly three years later in 2008, the economy was in an atrocious state. In an effort to keep our core business, an international logistics company, afloat we decided to purchase a $99 magazine template and publishing software — it was from there that ICOSA was born. With the addition of our art director, we managed to produce a 64 page magazine similar to what readers see today in just six weeks.

In just over two years, ICOSA has grown from an idea and is transitioning into a full media company. We are now working with various universities to offer an expanded course on connection and collaboration with the expectation of updating our book with new principles and practices that we have learned from our collaborative partners and their amazing stories.

The magazine continues to be a source of best practice case studies, while our new radio show, Connect and Collaborate with ICOSA on the Experience Pros Radio Show on 560 AM (in the Rocky Mountain region) highlights various contributors and topics.

We are proud of our work, and not just our staff, but contributors too. We know that without their support we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am honored to have worked with former Mayor turned Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on his collaborative project, The Biennial of the Americas 2010, which brought leaders from across the Western Hemisphere together to discuss the pertinent issues affecting our world today. The Biennial emanated the mission of ICOSA and is an example of what can happen when people come together to discuss common issues. The Biennial opened our eyes to the vast possibilities of new ideas, new stories, and new heights.

We have witnessed the amazing power people have when they connect and collaborate. I continue to ask for your help in sharing not only your stories but the stories of others through our magazine and now through our radio show. Together we can create success.

- Gayle Dendinger