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 Stratakos, Maya Rimer, Mira 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.
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.
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.
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”.
Want to make your next event climate- and eco-friendly? Here are 6 things you have probably not considered yet!
Climate- and eco-friendly meetings & conferences are not just about minimizing energy use and having reusable cups. It is a start of course, but much more that can be done. Meetings and conferences require an incredible investment of resources, time and effort. This is not only an investment by organizers, but also by participants and ultimately also the ecosystem we are part of.
With that in mind, we are often surprised how ineffective events are: Isn’t any ecological impact produced at an event that is ineffective a waste of resources? From our experience with event design, it seems safe to assume that most events only create about 10% of the potential added value they could.
Here are 6 things you can do to create meaningful events while minimizing its ecological impact:
1. Clarify purpose and desired outcomes to ensure the event is effective
All too often, the purpose of the event is unclear and people arrive with different expectations. As a consequence, many conferences and meetings conclude without clear outcomes and effectiveness is hard to measure.
Many organizations are used to frequent in-person meetings, while a great deal of meetings are unnecessary and could easily be done online.
Helpful good practices:
Invest time in clarifying the purpose of the event and sharing it with your organizing team. This seems obvious but most of the time, the need is unclear – even within the organizing team.
Clarify desired outcomes (tangible and intangible ones) and define ways to measure them. This will help a lot to design the event and to evaluate whether it was effective.
Speak up, be bold and dare to question whether an in-person gathering makes sense in a particular context. Often a lack of technical & facilitation knowledge is the reason for the request for physical gatherings. Much can be done with a simple skill upgrade. You’ll be surprised, what can be done online.
2. Take full advantage of those who made the effort to come by inviting participants to contribute
Does it really make sense to mobilize so many people and produce an increased CO2 footprint in order to achieve this outcome?
Unfortunately, most of the time, events are organized in a way that allows only a few people to speak. All too often, those who really have something to say don’t get to share their insights. Networking breaks become the only space for participants to really spend quality time with each other. If you are not a real networking expert, the limited time might barely allow a superficial exchange.
What you can do:
Focus on the participants’ experience when you design the agenda. We are more open to exchange and more creative when we feel safe and enjoy ourselves.
Less can be more, sometimes a filled agenda can keep participants from having the conversations that really matter. Make sure the agenda is spacious and allows flexibility, so participants can focus on what is important to them.
You’ll be surprised to see what participatory formats can do: Marketplaces, peer exchange, games and pro-action cafés, if designed smartly and with the purpose in mind, can invite everyone to contribute to the conversation.
Make sure that key stakeholders can give input to the agenda and contribute so there is a sense of shared ownership.
3. Take advantage of the resource investment made by capturing insights and results
Have you ever been to an event where you had a great time meeting lots of nice people but you don’t remember the outcomes and key insights? That’s exactly why it is so important to design events with the harvest in mind. Outcomes of events can be even more impactful if they come in an appealing and shareable format.
Some useful ideas on how to share event outcomes:
Capture outcomes in tangible ways and consider different formats (text, graphics, photos, reports etc.)
Involve participants in capturing what is important to them (e.g. collect their key insights and/or invite them to write blog posts, post on social media with hashtags, share their photos)
Design the harvest with your intended outcomes in mind: A smart harvest design anticipates key moments and allows organisers and participants to capture what is meaningful. Even with a large number of people you can get concrete results with a sense of shared ownership (no matter if we speak about a joint purpose, a policy proposal, or an action plan).
4. How can we minimize resources & waste?
All too often, either waste and climate impact are not a topic at all, or ‘zero waste’ and ‘carbon-free’ become buzz words to invite people to a gathering, without putting them into practice. Here are a few elements that can make a big difference:
Key elements to consider:
Venue & transport choices: The venue choice and related transport options can considerably influence energy use during the event – hence your impact on the climate. Make sure your venue is reachable by train/public transport and do encourage people to use these options. Many of us offset air miles. Suggest an offsetting service that is worthwhile and either include the offset in the ticket price or make it clear and easy for participants to offset.
Minimizing resource use: Reusable cups, recycling stations and waste-free catering. Simple steps with some preparation can help you make your event (almost) waste-free. Consider putting in place a zero waste strategy – here are some useful tips.
Food & catering: Offer vegan/vegetarian meals, you will be surprised how many options there are out there that also appear to meat-lovers. Do also ensure that the amounts of food are carefully calculated and that remaining food is reused.
5. Explore how to continue the conversation online to take advantage of the resource investment made
See you later alligator – people have small talk and forget to exchange contacts o
r don’t go deep enough in their conversations to be able to continue beyond the event. Make sure you take full advantage of the conversations you facilitated during the event and of the resources you’ve spent.
Ways to continue a conversation beyond the event:
Online meetups: once you’ve met people in person, it is so much easier to continue connecting online.
Online communication channels (mailing lists, linkedin group, twitter list etc.)… always with a clear purpose in mind!!
Make it easy for people to exchange contacts and find each other after the conference.
6. Foster learning around effectiveness and eco-friendliness in the organizing team
In our haste we sometimes forget to ask participants for feedback and improvement points, or we request feedback after the event and few participants get back. If we don’t evaluate an event, we miss an opportunity to learn and improve as an organizing team.
Helpful tips for your team:
You may want to adapt the way you capture feedback to the evaluation criteria of your intended outcomes. The Net Promoter Score is a common practice. Often times, an open space for appreciation and improvement points can be valuable.
Capture participant input during the event (feedback forms waste lots of paper but you can collect feedback either digitally – e.g. using Mentimeter) or on a single big sheet of paper.
Do make sure you schedule an evaluation session with your organizing team, so the learnings are taken into account in the next event any of you organizes.
Ultimately every meeting or event will have some sort of environmental impact, and will require plenty of resources and energy. So if you organize an event, make sure it generates results that make it worth your while. And if you need any help in organizing your next conference or event and making it eco-friendly, make sure to reach out to us and ask for our help :).
Sensetribe Consulting is an international multidisciplinary team of professionals specialised in projects that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We offer consulting services around participatory processes for events, stakeholder communication, organisational development, policy development and product and service innovation across Europe. By putting effective collaboration, collective wellbeing and creativity at the centre, SenseTribe designs processes that foster awareness, collaborative practices and authentic partnerships. More info here: www.sensetribe.com
Last year in May we participated in the NESI Global Forum where we had the chance to face a big challenge that helped us improve our co-creation and facilitation skills while enjoying a great time in a diverse and inspiring setting, deeply rooted in the values that really move us to action.
What was the challenge?
Marina Roa met Diego Moneda, director of the NESI Forum of New Economy and Social Innovation at the #EUideaslab at La Casa Encendida in Madrid.
We decided to collaborate together for the next Forum in April 2019 and that collaboration was sponsored by UNITAR and CIFAL.
What was our contribution?
We produced a live magazine with the input of more than 1000 participants (graphic facilitation, content, design).
Co-creation and facilitation of the track ‘Future of Work’ in English and Spanish
How was the process?
We supported the process of co-creation of the design of the event, which involved 6 areas with 3 work sessions each. The idea was to work following the model of 3 horizons representing three dimensions: present, future and steps to be taken (to get to that future).
In collaboration with Daniel Truran, General Director at EBBF & ambassador of B Corp, Mira Bangel and a group of content experts facilitated the three co-creation spaces focused on the future of work.
In each session, about 100 people gathered at 9 tables and generated questions to explore a more general topic. In each room there was a group of “subject matter experts” and some “correspondents” from the magazine that at the end of the session met with some more participants to collect the ideas and lessons together in a prepared template.
At the end of each day, the results were collected and reviewed together with the team responsible for the design and content of the magazine.
Marina Roa formed a team with two other collaborators, graphic designers, to facilitate the harvest process.
Once all the contents were obtained, they were visualized showing the main concepts through texts and illustrations and with a layout of contents and design.
After a very intense work and an excellent collaboration of our team together with participants and organizers of the event, we had an amazing result: The magazine was presented in the auditorium in digital format as the final conclusion of the event.
Some final adjustments were needed to integrate the feedback of the participants and to be aligned with the results. From then on, the magazine was shared with the public through social networks.
For us it was a challenge that involved the input of 1000 people, the collaboration in a team of more than 45 people and a very tight deadline. Thanks to the live launch and the active involvement of so many people, the magazine was shared and celebrated by the entire audience, also by our sponsor UNITAR-CIFAL and our area on the future of work was the most visited. We were also interviewed by the confidential in an article about the event.
Really great things can be done among many people if we organize ourselves well and work towards a common purpose.