Pomegranate Center

Alas, Pomegranate Center, the nonprofit, has moved to the great beyond. Pomegranate Associates, LLC will carry on the work. Read more

Ground Rules for Collective Creativity

February 9, 2013

In the complex business of community collaboration, any person or group has the power to derail the process. Adopting a code of conduct where everyone’s roles and responsibilities are understood and agreed on from the beginning keeps projects on track. It also defends against naysayers and creates healthy conditions for collective creativity.


  • Share airtime:  Everyone participates; no one is allowed to dominate
  • Assume that together we know more:  Work to understand the assumptions, opinions and ideas of others
  • Reject the culture of blame:  Be tough on ideas but gentle on people
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes:  Represent those not present


  • Open your ears and your mind:  Listening is NOT just waiting for your turn to speak
  • Do your homework:  Understand the problem and its history
  • Look for common solutions:  Then commit to them
  • Seek the community’s highest good for both present and future


  • Forge Multiple Victories:  The best ideas solve more than one problem at a time
  • Explore unconventional approaches:  New conditions demand new solutions
  • Turn opposition into proposition: Instead of fighting a weak idea, come up with a better one
  • Transform differences into gifts:  Arguing over the differences among us wastes time, money, resources, goodwill, and talent. Exchange ideas with others for greater insights and more inclusive and creative solutions
  • Change your mind in light of new information:  Do your part to create an atmosphere where meetings are about discovery and collaboration, not platforms for convincing others that your idea is superior
  • Maintain balance between heart and mind, knowledge and intuition, expertise and passion 

Establishing clear Ground Rules at the beginning of a project isn’t always easy but in the end, participants feel a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. Consider establishing your own set of Ground Rules with specific expectations laid out in advance then keep them posted in a prominent spot where all participants can see.