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A Tale of Two Radical Collaborations

Author and retired judge will join speaker lineup next week

Jim Tamm

James Tamm didn’t choose the title of his book to match the theme of this year’s TEDxSantaCruz event. And the organizers didn’t choose Tamm as one of its two-dozen speakers because of the title of his book.

But the two met head-on in a clash of — you guessed it — Radical Collaboration.

How did the TEDxSantaCruz team come up with this year’s theme?

“It grabbed us all immediately,” co-organizer Nada Miljkovic said. “Usually it is much more difficult, because we use a consensus decision-making practice. It’s also very close to my heart. I’ve been researching collaboration for years, as a part of my studies at UC Santa Cruz.”

It wasn’t until later that they met author Tamm when he applied to be a speaker. For him, the words Radical Collaboration have been part of his lexicon for 14 years.

“My co-author, Ron Luyet, and I first came up with the term when we started work on our book, before it was used anyplace else,” he said.  “We chose it for several reasons — first, because the level of collaborative skills that we were advocating within organizations seemed to be quite ‘radical’ at that time, and also because organizations that adopted that level of collaborative skills seemed to produce ‘radical’ outcomes. We also liked it because nobody else was using it and we could get a registered trademark for the term, which we also use as the name of one of our training programs.”

Tamm, a retired judge for the state of California, will share what he believes is “the single most important thing people can do become more effective at resolving conflict and building collaboration — that is better managing their own defensiveness.”

For most of his career, he was a senior administrative law judge. He was a member of a special task force that designed and taught collaboration skills to public sector organizations. He’s now taught collaboration skills in 30 countries, including Santa Cruz, where he has been part of the UCSC Leadership Academy for eight years.

Tamm will join two-dozen speakers at TEDxSantaCruz:Radical Collaboration. Tickets for the all-day event are still available online. The fourth-annual local conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz.