Small Bites: A Tool for Collaboration

Authored by Coach Abby Sadauckas

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farm and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm teams.

The Four G’s – A Tool for Collaboration

The Four G’s is an activity included in the book, People & Permaculture written by Looby Macnamara in 2012. The concept is simple and the activity is powerful!

What does it do?

In a group it is helpful to understand the motivations, concerns, and parameters of others. Anybody else experience collaboration fatigue? Did you think everyone was on the same page about project goals?

Sitting down with this tool can help identify, in a non-confrontational manner where differences of opinion or approach are, either before you get started or once things go off track.

assorted color smiley and checkboxes

To use the tool, take a sheet of paper and divide it into four sections by folding or by drawing a grid. Working clockwise, write a heading in each quadrant – Gives, Gains, Groans, and Guidelines.

  • Gives include what you’re willing to bring to the project to ensure success- this might include your marketing skills.

  • Gains are what you hope to achieve, whether that is a personal goal or one you feel is critical to the project’s success. In other words, what do you get out of your participation?

  • Capturing the “Groans” is key at the start of a collaboration. What are you worried about? Are there experiences you’ve had, didn’t enjoy and would like to avoid? Share those here!

  • Guidelines are where you can identify what works for you and it is helpful to include specifics. For example, I love a deadline, I want it in writing and I want others to hold themselves accountable. What’s important to you? Capture it in the guidelines.

The 4G’s can be used at the start of the project, at seasonal shifts on your farm, or when you need an open way to hear from collaborators about how a project may be going.

Want help to implement the 4G’s on your farm? Reach out to the farm coaching team to set-up a free consultation and a step-by-step setup of your own 4G’s activity.