How to transform an online conference into something magical?

How to transform an online conference into something magical?

In January 2020 SenseTribe supported Dafne and AEF in facilitating a wonderful 2-day conference in Madrid with 120 participants from philanthropy infrastructure organizations from all over Europe and from abroad. PEX 2020 was a place for individuals and organizations active in the philanthropy sector to meet and build an active community of support, and made it possible to kick-start a number of concrete projects and initiatives.

The plan was to meet again in Istanbul this year for PEX 2021, but with COVID the ‘road to Istanbul’ suddenly became longer than expected. Together with the Dafne team we were wrestling with the following question: 

How can we bring the conference online and create something meaningful? 

Although we had the advantage of people having met the previous year, we still had to solve the challenge of including newcomers and creating a similar magic online at a moment of significant screen tiredness. Despite the challenge, we somehow made it possible!

Over 160 participants enjoyed a 2-day conference that made them discover not only how to meet, but how to co-create and fully enjoy an online experience. We literally forgot at some moments that we were sitting in front of a screen. 

So, how did this magic happen? 

We are happy to share our reflections with you, hoping they will help you co-create your magical online events as well… Let us know what you think about these tips! 

1. Trust is a key ingredient of any work relationship. 

Between SenseTribe, Dafne and Ariadne there is a special bond. We deeply appreciate each other as teams, are comfortable being ourselves and make decisions together. The team delegated a big part of the decision making regarding technology and the process facilitation to us as professionals in the field. Without this trust, none of this would have been possible. Thank you team!

2. We involved a council of stakeholders in the co-creation process 

The council included participants from last year as well as newcomers. This wonderful group helped us identify the real needs, desired outcomes, agenda items and strategic decisions.

3. We put a lot of care in the selection of the right tools

Both teams did their research and shared outcomes. We wanted to make things simple and bring some innovation into the space. We finally chose to combine a well-elaborated Miro board for harvesting the event journey with participants, Spatial Chat for informal spaces and Zoom for the formal and co-creation spaces. You can find a practical guide on how to choose the right tools for your event here

4. A visual metaphor as a common thread

Quite early on we identified a metaphor together that represented the event journey and our Illustrator Marina Roa turned it into a wonderful illustration that served as a continuous reminder of the purpose along each clearly signalled step in the process. 

5. We sent a physical welcome package to participants

Sending a little physical welcome package to all participants made the event real. The little letter-shaped gift with summer flower seeds, your piece of the ‘larger puzzle’ and the tree image brought a sense of connection and belonging to participants and to us hosts and facilitators.

6. Informal spaces 

Informal spaces are key and we need to make room for them online as, without them, we are missing out on an essential part of any event. We enabled free mingling and networking with an intuitive platform during the breaks and before the event. 

7. A mindful opening

A strong opening was the opportunity for participants to connect with others and with themselves. That’s why we invited our dear friend Vasco Gaspar, a skilled facilitator with vast experience in mindfulness, integral meditation and many meaningful practices, to join our team and facilitate a moment of self and group connection. This warm and welcoming start made a difference for newcomers as well as veterans.

8. We purposefully intended to hit the learning zone

When we design participatory events, we foresee an overall flow that allows us to intentionally hit the learning (or groan/growth) zone. We need disruptive moments in an event so participants leave their comfort zones and open up to the emergence of new discoveries. This moment is not necessarily enjoyable, but it is key for openness, new perspectives and truly collaborative creation to take place. 

9. Music and sounds to bring in emotions and a sense of connection

When we are all muted we do not hear each other’s laughter or cheering. So we used a few sound effects to bring a pleasant atmosphere during breaks and self-exercises and even a few sound effects to make the experience even more real and enjoyable. 

10. An artful closing 

We felt it was important for this particular event to create space for art and poetry, to convey deeper meaning and activate the participants’ creative juices. We invited Marina Roa to capture key moments with visual harvesting, great poetry from Stien Michiels and a final closing song for participants. Participants could contribute by sharing insights with our harvesters throughout the event and by whispering a chorus and holding up a light during the final song. The outcome was meaningful art and a magical closing moment that helped us to forget that this all happened on a screen.

11. Wellbeing is key, especially when you are involved in offering meaningful experiences to others

You can only offer truly enjoyable experiences when you are yourself balanced and when the purpose of the event is truly meaningful to you as well. We tried our best to take care of our own wellbeing so we could offer a great experience to participants, and we had the mental and physical capacity to improvise, adjust along the way and work with what was alive in the space at the moment. Good preparation and the capacity to skillfully improvise are key.

12. Our role as hosts and facilitators 

We as hosts and facilitators offer room for co-creation, the participants are the ones that fill it with life and make it all happen. So THANK YOU to all 160 participants who made this event a truly unforgettable experience!

Here are some articles written about the event by participants and contributors of PEX 2021: 

Flow Game is a powerful tool for making essential decisions

Flow Game is a powerful tool for making essential decisions

The Flow Game is a powerful tool for companies, teams and leaders who decide to take advantage of these moments of uncertainty to connect with what is most essential, spend time around significant questions, deeply explore blockages and difficulties, generate clarity about decisions to be made. In short, turn difficulties into opportunities.

Although it’s called Flow Game, it is not a game like chess, with winners and losers, it is more like the kind of play we find in Lego, where something new is made.

The Flow Game is based on a set of methods and processes, around the North American Aboriginal Medicine Wheel. Use powerful questions and images through the cards, reflection and interaction between the participants. Serendipity or chance also intervene, through the use of the dice, and the facilitation of the Flow Game Host with their coaching and hosting skills.

This moment of COVID pandemic is a challenge to the whole of society, as well as to leaders of teams and companies. Old ways of responding are not appropriate, what is needed is another way of leading supported by trust in the Emerging Strategy, (a strategy which emerges from a situation rather than being imposed on it).

The Game allows you to target specific issues you have, like: 

How can we innovate in products and services, how can we take advantage of the situation, how can we reinvent our best version, etc.


In summary, the Flow Game can be useful to:

  • Align the team around meaningful questions and set priorities
  • Deeply explore blockages and difficulties
  • Generate clarity and set in motion what needs to be promoted, a project, a decision about the future of work.


But in addition, individuals can feel empowered through sharing experiences and ideas and participating in creating new strategies. As a tool of Participatory leadership, based on the premise that each person contains an entire universe. Each member of our teams is more than a piece with a specific role in the organization, he or she can offer much more. The Flow Game can harness collective experience and intelligence.

How does a Flow Game session work and what does it consist of?

You can play as a team or as an individual.
Each game can be adapted to the needs of the team and also to the number of participants (it can vary from 4 to 50). It can be online or face-to-face. 


The structure of the game for a team is as follows:

  • Preparation phase: The Flow Game Host explores the need for the equipment and works until it finds the driving question.
  • Game phase: Between 2.5 to 4 hours long. The facilitator creates the proper framework and context to flow with the principles of deep listening, respect, non-judgment, and confidentiality. 
  • First round with a deck of team cards, everyone who participates contributes to the common question. This round can end with a small “harvest.” 
  • Second round with a deck of personal cards in which each person in relation to the common purpose asks what their best contribution can be.
  • Final phase or check-out: What do you take with you? And what has happened to you since the beginning of the game?
  • Harvest Phase: Throughout the process, a graphic facilitator will record the main questions, findings, discoveries and conclusions that emerge during the game visually. All the information will be collected in a document that will be shared with the team after the session to reinforce the learning.

SenseTribe regularly organizes Flow Game sessions with facilitators with extensive experience in the area. If you are interested in organizing a session or have more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

History of the Flow Game:

More than 20 years ago, a group of professionals, people committed to the environment, participation and peace, began to wonder about the need to create useful tools to train leaders in a type of leadership according to the future that they would like to achieve. This is a true story, these people were meeting in Denmark for almost a year, exchanging ideas, tools, reflecting on new paradigms, and when they believed that they were approaching the design of the best training for Leadership, they discovered that what was emerging was something else: It was a game! A game that had to be taken very seriously, as it concentrated powerful ingredients to bring clarity and be able to make important decisions, activating individual and collective wisdom and awareness. Flow Game had just been born!

In 1998 they had the first Flow Game prototype ready and it was played for the first time in San Francisco in 1999. From the beginning the game was designed to be facilitated by a “Flow Game Host”, it could be played individually or for a group. Since then it has been played in many different contexts and on all continents of the planet, for individuals, small groups, large groups, for leaders of large companies, with employees, in personal development sessions.


General information:

SenseTribe regularly organizes Flow Game sessions with facilitators with extensive experience in the area. If you are interested in organizing a session or have more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

More info and inscriptions:

Next session dates: The next sessions will take place::

  • 17th September 2020
  • 22nd October 2020
  • ….


Duration: 2 hours

The workshop will be held by Zoom.

Language: Spanish / English

Session rates: individual € 110 per person. Equipment € 1200 (VAT apart)

If you want to organize a group on a specific date, contact us:

Contact: and  

Who is this workshop for?

Flow Game sessions are intended for both individuals and teams.


Mariana Ruiz Lobera:Sociologist and facilitator of participatory processes.

Extensive experience in training and facilitation in large companies (Iberdrola, Atresmedia), NGOs (Greenpeace, Doctors of the World, Action against Hunger). He teaches at the Autonomous University of Madrid on Participatory Leadership, Collective Intelligence and Conflict Resolution.

Mariana Web Linkedin

Marina Roa: Visual thinking and facilitator of creative processes

Marina has extensive experience designing processes that bring us closer to collaborative, innovative and sustainable solutions. Graduated in Psychology and Superior Technician in Design, certified in creative thinking and passionate about non-violent communication.

Linkedin Behance Portfolio



Art of Hosting online training 9 June – 21 July

Art of Hosting online training 9 June – 21 July

How can Art of Hosting help us navigate uncertainty and evolve in times of isolation and global crisis?

Our world is in flux. COVID19 has surfaced the drawbacks of our current way of life, leading us into uncharted waters. The pandemic has created global unrest by illuminating economic and social inequalities even more. It is clearer than ever before, that the world is changing rapidly and all of us, inevitably, are part of this process. What if this is the opportunity that we have been longing for, the beginning of a new era? What if this is the right time to change the current status quo and imagine a future of living within our Planet’s limits, for the good of all?

Based on the assumption that our world needs fundamental change, the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Meaningful Conversations practice has been supporting organisations, communities and groups to “be the change” for the past 25 years. It is a practice that prioritises diversity and collaboration where people can discover and cultivate new collective intelligence together. By learning and applying participatory methods, models and theories, we become more skillful in navigating chaos and complexity individually and collectively. Being a global community of practitioners expands the potential and impact of learning, increasing our ability to respond in times of crisis. 

We would like to invite you on a quest. We invite teachers, parents, managers, community organisers, politicians, all who are seeking a way to meet this new future which is emerging to join us.  We are creating a digital space, where we would like to share and explore together with you the essence of our practice. Together, we invite you into a learning space where we can exchange knowledge, experience participatory methods, explore mental models and theories of complexity, change and systems thinking. We will explore new forms of leadership, based on Living Systems – where interconnection, collaboration and self-organising around purpose lead to results for the good of all.

We invite you to bring your questions, ideas, hopes and dreams and dive into a collective inquiry together. Let’s navigate into these unknown times with an open heart and mind to discover new possibilities. 

Who is this for?

Anyone who wants to develop collaboration and participation skills – public service professionals, entrepreneurs, social innovators, NGOs, leaders in business, educators, and anyone who see themselves stepping into new ways of leading.

We will learn, explore and practice

  • Participatory methods of engaging small and large groups in conversation.
  • Forms and strategies to build conditions for co-operation and collaboration.
  • Worldviews and models that will help you to work with complexity.
  • New perspectives, tools and practical ways of engaging a diverse group of people to discover new ideas and solutions by working generatively with complexity, conflict and emergence.
  • Process Design, designing and planning the process before implementation, as a structure for new potential and possibilities to emerge.

Be prepared to:

  • Generate new and collective knowledge that you can apply to your context
  • Listen to stories from different people, places and perspectives
  • Contribute to other people’s learning by sharing your insights, questions, projects
  • Deepen, develop and design your ideas, projects, goals, initiative, questions in a collective learning space
  • Join an international network and community of practice and connect with a diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds


Maria Scordialos with Dimitris StratakosMaya RimerMira Bangel and Julia Hoffmann (Visual Recording) decided to collaborate and cocreate this online learning journey, as a response to the current global health and economic crisis.

As stewards and/or seasoned practitioners of the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Meaningful Conversations global community of practice, they offer trainings and immersive learning on participatory leadership, living systems, and design practices for living and working in complexity, particularly in contexts of chaos, crisis and collapse. 

More details and registrations

Online workshop: How to take care of your coworkers remotely?

Online workshop: How to take care of your coworkers remotely?

How can we care for each other in challenging times, deepen human relationships and build a sense of togetherness remotely? 

Learn the Caring Circle Practice to build trustful and honest relationships with your colleagues and with others in a remote work environment.:

      • Build the capacity to care for each other in challenging times and deepen your relationships as human beings remotely
      • Explore how to build a sense of togetherness and community remotely
      • Enhance the capability to take care of yourself
continue reading

Online workshop: What to do with my event or conference?

Online workshop: What to do with my event or conference?

Unleashing the potential of your event in an online format in 3 work sessions:

Given the current challenges with COVID19, many of us are now stuck in a limbo with our events and conferences. In this programme we will together with you:

    • Explore possibilities of effective online events
    • Revisit your strategy and develop a clear plan of action
continue reading

New thinking in spatial planning – from methodology to implementation

New thinking in spatial planning – from methodology to implementation

The challenge

In this context the main goal was to co-design a conference in a more participatory manner with the aim of compiling the lessons learned during all previous conference cycles held in other European countries through the Design Thinking of the cycle: Land Management in Western Europe .

The events involved academics and policy makers from various countries, as well as experts and other parties interested in the subject.

What did we contribute?

  • Design and collaborative creation of the event
  • Facilitation of the participatory part
  • Graphic facilitation and materials for social networks.

Co-design of the event

We started a collaborative process by consulting the project team with the ORATE managers and the ORATE regional contact points in Western Europe in order to clarify the purpose of the event, its different interests and its needs.

We designed a one-day participatory process and involved the different actors in the preparation phase. We formulated the purpose explicitly following Sociocracy 3.0’s driver format:

During the different ESPON conferences, a collective understanding of the current challenges in land management in Western Europe was generated, which is incredibly valuable. We need to consolidate this collective wisdom to clarify the key knowledge issues where there is a gap and capture ideas that will be of value for ESPON’s future research agenda.

During the ESPON roadshow, an invaluable collective understanding of current challenges in spatial planning in Western Europe has been generated. We need to consolidate this collective wisdom to clarify knowledge gaps and capture insights that will be of value for ESPON’s future research agenda.

With our team we designed a collaborative process using the proposal formation pattern of Sociocracy 3.0 and the Pro-action Café format of participatory leadership.

The facilitation part

80 people participated in the event. We welcomed them with a check-in and by sharing the main purpose of the event. Then they were invited to listen to the part of presentations and to ask generating questions that were collected in a panel on the wall.

After lunch, we divided the participants into 5 groups (each covering one of the following areas: energy and climate change, well-being and inclusion, housing management, sustainable urban development, green planning) in round tables. The purpose was, in three rounds, for them to explore these issues in the context of the organization of territories. After each round we invited them to change tables, and a facilitator at each table was responsible for collecting the ideas. During the last round we shared a template to collect the lessons.

At the end of the session, each group’s results were presented to the director of ORATE and the Interior Minister of the Netherlands. All sessions were facilitated by Mira Bangel in collaboration with representatives of ERRIN and INOVA.

Graphic facilitation

Marina Roa, our graphic facilitator, was present during the event to capture the key concepts and lessons learned during the event and synthesize them in a visual way.


Event Report:

It was not easy to find the common purpose of the event as there were different actors with varied interests. It was something we had to work on several times in order to go as deep as we needed to.

The collaboration between the three organizations involved in the development of the event was very fluid. Their openness to our ideas during the participatory and innovation parts made our work a lot smoother and allowed them to trust our work enough to let us guide them through the process. The collaboration of this new team worked and was even a pleasure, like a meeting of old friends.

Quote: “We can’t solve problems using the same way of thinking we used when we created them”.

Pictures and more information here: