Stewardship is similar to leadership. It assumes the initial functions of leadership: it reaches out to a community, extends invitations for collaboration, puts pieces together, and nurtures a project once it gets going. Stewards know that to grow collaboration, it is necessary to create a space of sharing and engagement. Transparency, flexibility, and generousity are all important here.
Stewards watch over the earth. They are the guardians of life as an evolving process.
Stewardship is a feature of sustained and successful collaboration. The good steward is a person who assumes responsibility for their role in a project and checks in at regular intervals to see that the project is proceeding correctly. In open projects and think tanks, stewards watch over the evolving discussion and steer it by providing perspectives on where the discussion is at, in the sense of what has been achieved, and what needs to be achieved, to complete the project.
Social cohesion and innovation need not be enemies of one another. Under the syncretistic gaze of a good steward, it is possible for a project to evolve in various directions without coming apart at the seams.
[This post is based on the co-authored article, 'Online Collaboration Doesn't Happen By Magic' [Coalitionblog Oct 2010])