Glossary: C


Coconstruction is a process that enables individuals to construct new representations from existing ones by comparing and contrasting their views with those of other people involved in the process, in a spirit of discussion and sharing. Knowledge of a change is constructed based on one's own model of practice, which, in the course of the accompaniment process, is subject to successive adjustments as new learning occurs or as the person progresses through the change process, during which new learning also occurs. In the course of socioconstructivist accompaniment, participants compare and contrast their constructions with those of others involved in a similar process. Likewise, they validate their constructions against the literature and existing theoretical models. Individual constructions are thus forged as they are challenged and called into question by various influences. Collective construction of a model of practice for a change helps build a shared vision of the change. Staff take ownership of this collective construction and integrate it into their own model as they continue challenging and testing it in everyday work situations. In the course of this complex process, there is constant back-and-forth movement between theory and practice as staff members share and discuss their representations with others, drawing on individual and collective expertise within the group before starting a new cycle with other persons or groups (adapted from Lafortune, 2004d,e; Lafortune and Deaudelin, 2001a. For further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a,b).


Cofacilitation is a form of professional collaboration associated with socioconstructivist accompaniment. It serves as a “safety net” for accompaniment providers, affording them support from one or more colleagues. Providers not only benefit from mutual support, but also from the input their colleagues can provide. Multiple interactions (information sharing, discussion, etc.) about ideas, actions, and strategies foster better analysis and provide critical distance that helps clarify choices and improve decision making. Cofacilitation encourages the sharing of theoretical foundations that enrich the respective knowledge cultures of the partners involved. It injects an element of dynamism into their work by allowing individuals to contribute to the construction, justification, and consolidation of their intervention models, and gain a conscious awareness of their beliefs about teamwork and about accompaniment in general. It also helps ensure monitoring and continuity in the event of a team member's departure (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008b).

Competencies in development

A competency in development is one whose development is ongoing. Competency development is a lifelong endeavor. Regardless of age, knowledge, abilities, or experience, people try to achieve greater mastery every time they use a competency in a new and different situation. This idea of a competency in development is rooted in the impossibility of identifying all situations where a competency may be required. On the other hand, individuals can make correct and appropriate use of certain aspects of a competency, in which case they are deemed to have achieved a degree of mastery. In order to fully appreciate the dynamic aspect of this process, it is appropriate to talk about developing competencies. A competency is developing when progress is achieved towards mastering its components, and when use of those components grows more complex in response to the unforeseeable needs of the situation.

Competency development involves drawing on knowledge and existing abilities that are not fully mastered. Use of a competency can be defined as the application of constructed knowledge and “mastered” abilities that enable one to perform a task or produce something, whereas competency development refers to the notion of progress toward full mastery of a skill. When change is implemented, the people affected strive to incorporate new skills and explore new ground, which is why it is more difficult to develop competencies than to use them. In a context where competency development is an ongoing, open-ended process, use of a competency has to do with the level of mastery, and the user's awareness of his or her strengths and weaknesses with respect to the competency. Competency development is stimulated by cognitive dissonance and difficulties that instill doubt, raise questions, and encourage experimentation. It is an action-based process and leads to autonomy (Lafortune, 2004d,e).

Conceptual thread

The conceptual thread explicitly clarifies the spirit of the accompaniment process or action plan. It is used to guide reflections and actions, establish links between the ideas set forth and the actions taken, and revisit these actions to articulate the meaning, connections, and cohesiveness of the accompaniment process (Lafortune, 2004e). It allows participants to reexamine the ground covered (individually and collectively) by explicitly identifying the subjects and processes experimented with during the accompaniment process. It helps reframe, adjust, and regulate actions and the process. Contextualization of the conceptual thread that ran through meetings over the course of a year helps foster awareness of the progress made, and establish links between past and future action by facilitating planning. The conceptual thread helps clarify the meaning of actions, ensure consistency in the accompaniment process, and appreciate how consistency was achieved. It also opens up new avenues for reflection and action, and can even revitalize the reflection/action process (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a).


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