Designing Collaborative Workplaces | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Designing Collaborative Workplaces

HR 201
3 Credits

Advancing Your High Performance Teams and Creating a New Workplace Culture

There are currently no dates scheduled for this program. Please contact us at for more information or to be added to the waiting list.

(Formerly Building Smart Teams)

Teamwork is essential to organizational success – but today, the speed of change and innovation is driving a new team structure. Leaders are now bringing together employees from across an organization to contribute to projects, and regrouping them into new teams as opportunities arise. It’s all about collaboration – not just a good practice, but a core organizational competence.

Organizations can reap the benefits of a collaborative advantage by transitioning to managing a team of teams, a work culture that evolves and shifts fluidly to meet project demands and schedules, while aligning to corporate strategy and goals. Our Designing Collaborative Workplaces program gives you the knowledge and tools you need to create that framework; building trust and enabling individuals to maximize their contribution in a high performance environment.

Tour of the Program

Creating Collaborative Advantage

Collaboration has emerged as a core organizational competency and is critical for success in today’s workplace. Our Designing Collaborative Workplaces program takes a deep dive into the why, what and how of collaboration, giving you key insights into the essential conditions for building high performance teams, enabling collaborative workplaces, and creating engaging work spaces for collective learning.

a) Team Fundamentals for High Performance

We begin with an introduction to what makes teams high performing. Our research based model identifies the core skills and processes teams need to effectively learn, innovate, and execute together.

You will learn:

  • Team management practices to help members organize for success and get up to speed quickly
  • Approaches and tools for innovative problem solving, including idea generation, prototype development, and solution generation
  • How to engage team members and inspire trust, while at the same time honouring diversity and managing the inevitable conflicts inherent in collaborative work

b) The Why of Collaboration: Exploring the Competitive Landscape

We will explore how the effects of globalization, technology, demographics and the knowledge economy are driving the need for collaborative work and workplaces.

You will:

  • Learn about trends and issues that are changing the way we work
  • Explore a continuum of collaborative work and workplace relationships from cooperation, to coordination, to co-creation
  • Explore the essential conditions for collaborative work, including how values, principles, and practices build trust and promote sharing
  • Identify barriers to collective learning in your organization

c) Beyond Fundamentals: Collaborative Learning and Innovating

Traditionally team tasks have focused on product and service improvements and relied on techniques designed for planning and executing. As workplace challenges become more complex and the problem space more volatile, new approaches to working, favouring learning and innovation over execution, are required.

You will learn:

  • The art of framing your team challenge for learning and innovation
  • The mindsets, skills and behaviours collaborators require to learn together; seeking, integrating and adapting to improve
  • How experimentation and active learning as you go, is replacing traditional problem solving methods
  • Essential techniques and tools for leveraging and building on the diverse talents, insights, and experiences of team members
  • The importance of reflection and after action reviews for assessing results, uncovering new ideas, and continuous adjustments
  • The essential role of trust and psychological safety in promoting team learning and how you can create it

d) A New Framework for a Team of Teams

Transitioning to a collaborative workplace culture requires a thoughtful approach that includes a supportive environment for flexible teams and shifting roles. We will show you how to create a solid platform that embeds collaborative practices into your organization and creates highly engaging work spaces for your teams to excel.

You will:

  • Learn the value of shaping work as a collaborative effort instead of a solo task
  • Learn the art of forming co-evolving teams and scoping who should be involved and how
  • Create a platform of supportive practices, tools, principles and technologies to help teams quickly become productive
  • Explore the role of leadership in setting the outcomes, pace and tempo of collaborative work, as well as coaching collaborative performance
  • Expand your toolbox of techniques to foster creativity and learning amongst team members

An Interactive Approach

Learn by doing. Our experiential learning approach gives you real-world experience in a collaborative environment, allowing you to test theories and understand a new workplace from a range of perspectives. As a member of our collaborative community, you will interact with colleagues in various configurations, playing different roles in each and learn about the value of each contribution.

You will:

  • Gain first-hand experience in a collaborative setting in a range of roles
  • Explore the iterative learning process
  • Learn about technology and tools that can facilitate collaboration
  • Understand why space matters – and how to create an engaging space for your team of teams

Learning Outcomes

Transforming Knowledge into Action

Learn how to:

  • Recognize the essential behaviours that drive team success
  • Develop core team skills and processes for innovating, partnering and executing
  • Populate your teams with the right skills, talents and resources
  • Support your teams as they form and become productive
  • Develop a framework that empowers your teams yet keeps them focused and aligned with other efforts
  • Identify the DNA and logic of a truly collaborative workplace and how to promote it


Organizational Benefits:

  • Tools and resources for creating a high performance culture through teamwork
  • Capabilities to foster innovation and continuous learning through teamwork
  • Transformational learning to align your organization’s capabilities with the knowledge economy
  • Evidence-based knowledge with real-world application to your workplace
  • Transition planning toolkits to guide back-home planning

Takeaway Tools:

  • Workbook
  • Tools and templates
  • Resources for building and optimizing your organization’s collaborative platform

Who Should Attend

  • Strategic HR business partners
  • HR leaders, managers and professionals who are developing organizational platforms for collaboration and innovation
  • Team leaders and members who are searching for best practice approaches
  • Teams of multidisciplinary colleagues – make the learning real and return to your organization with a solid plan

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Brenda Barker Scott

Brenda Barker Scott is a groundbreaker with a passion for creating workplaces that inspire, connect and grow people. Over her twenty-year career in teaching and consulting, Brenda has led ambitious renewal efforts aimed at enhancing innovation and collaboration with provincial governments and agencies, school boards, not-for-profits and private firms.

When working with leadership teams, she combines strong theoretical knowledge with practical methodologies to ensure that the right people are engaged in the right conversations to design robust and workable strategies.

Brenda is co-author of Building Smart Teams: A Roadmap to High Performance (Sage 2004), and is currently undertaking field...

Read the full bio for Brenda Barker Scott

Guest Speaker(s)

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a 10% discount on program fees. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty 8 days or more from the program start date.
Substitutions 7 days or less before the program start date will be subject to a $500 charge.
Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 15 days prior to the program start date.
Transfers and cancellations 14 days or less from the program start date will be subject to a 100% charge of the program fee.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans.  What are the start and end times for the program?

Designing Collaborative Workplaces starts at 8:30 a.m. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.)

The program finishes by 3:30 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or