learn to collaborate

What is the COS?


What is the Collaborative Operating System? The COS is a way of working that actually works!


Read our white paper explaining this revolutionary system.

The Collaborative Operating System is a framework for leading, managing, and working that enable groups and teams to make high-quality decisions, function together effectively, execute plans quickly, and create higher individual and collective commitment to shared goals. Based on the principles of ownership and alignment, our approach provides leaders with a collection of carefully structured guidelines and simple templates through one of two teaching environments:

  1. A private “in-house” course customized to your organization
  2. A public, online course taught over 24 weeks

Throughout our training, participants learn to design, facilitate and work according to the COS Principles, Fundamentals, and Five Elements.

Element One is the first step in every problem-solving effort. It ensures that 1) there is, in fact, a problem, 2) the problem is worth solving, and  3) the group believes the problem can be solved. It also forges alignment around the problem, which lays a solid foundation for every phase of problem solving that follows.

In Element Two of Collaboration, Involve Relevant Stakeholders, participants learn another essential step in successful collaboration – having the right people involved from the very beginning. Knowing whom to involve provides participants with a systematic framework for thinking about what constitutes a “relevant stakeholder.”

In Element Three, Design Collaborative Meetings, we teach participants how to design and execute truly collaborative meetings – a fundamental component of collaborative work. Many leaders complain that they spend too much time in painful, unproductive meetings which lack focus, churn repeatedly around the same issues, and fail to generate productive action. Those leaders also report that work relationships tend to break down in their meetings, so they actually emerge from a meeting with less trust and respect than when they started.

Our collaborative approach to meetings is a strategic one in which trust and engagement drive results. This is true for every meeting – whether two participants or 200, formal or informal, live or via teleconference. Our highly structured (yet, paradoxically flexible) approach enables groups to work effectively across the enterprise while leveraging workers experience, knowledge and creativity.

In Element Four, Form the Collaborative Team, we teach the art and science of defining and scoping the work as well as making the necessary binding agreements that enable people to come to a high level of ownership and alignment around how they'll conduct and govern themselves.

Element Five, Create a Collaborative Plan, is a capstone lesson. Participants work at the 50,000 ft level to design a master plan integrating the preceding lessons/Elements.

See what graduates of the program have said about how it’s impacted their lives.