In late August of 2012 a group of us launched the first "Art of Participatory Leadership and Social Innovation" event in California. This intensive was a 3-day program designed to help us learn simple yet powerful processes that build community, activate collective intelligence and foster individual and collaborative leadership practices.
Forward thinking leaders and other innovators showed up who were seeking higher impact ways to engage, inspire, and activate innovation and business value within their teams and stakeholders.
We spentthree days together and learned simple yet powerful leadership and communication techniques that tap into the inspiration and collective brainpower of teams, and sparked and sustained our imagination to drive innovative thinking and foster high value output within our organization.
We work on our very own unique and pressing challenges (not our predetermined ones). We left equipped with confidence, capabilities and a seriously comprehensive resource manual so that we could apply all that we did at work the the next business day.
We connected with other emerging and evolving leaders, entrepreneurs and social innovators from California and around the world. Great ripples of action and synergy were found by collaborating with this exciting network of energetic and passionate people.
The ability of a group working iteratively and collaboratively to seek, model and put into place higher-order solutions. Time compression, systemic work-flow, dynamic feedback, individual creativity and collective creativity are core features of group genius.
Here's a collection of processes and thought leaders that I use in my practice:
Open Space Technology
Open Space Technology is an approach to organizing large-scale,
participative meetings in which diverse groups come together for the
purposes of managing complex issues in short periods of time, with no
advance agenda, and minimal facilitation. This approach to meetings,
most often attributed to Harrison Owen, generally results in a report
of all topics and discussions generated by participants, isolation of
critical "focal issues," and identification of next step actions. Open
Space is widely known for its Four Principles: 1) Whoever comes is the
right people, 2) Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, 3)
Whenever it starts if the right time, 4) When it’s over it’s over, and
its Law of Two Feet, which allows for movement of participants from
discussion to discussion, given their judgment of where they can best
learn and contribute.
A very useful short film on Open Space produced by Alex Munslow, an independent film-maker.It's a great short film about running Open Space, based around the Open Space workshops at the Inaugural Transition Network meeting at Ruskin Mill in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, UK.
Another recent article from Business Week about unconferencing.
MAY 14, 2007
Take Your PowerPoint And…
Cheap, audience-driven "unconferences" are shaking up the convention biz
Free classified ads on Craigslist threaten newspapers. Open-source software is gaining on Microsoft (MSFT ) and Oracle (ORCL ). Now the convention business faces its own Web-inspired competition: the "unconference."
Unconferences turn the plodding, predictable business gathering inside out. They're a hybrid of a teach-in and a jam session, with a little show-and-tell mixed in, and they are attracting hundreds in cities like Austin, Tex., Bangalore, San Francisco, Sydney, and Tokyo. Unlike traditional, $1,000-a-head and up conferences, they're totally unstructured—the agenda isn't determined until the opening day of the event. Everyone who shows up is a potential speaker, and those who don't speak contribute by posting photos, blog entries, podcasts, and video clips of the proceedings. Neckties and heels are noticeably absent. And attendance is almost always inexpensive or free.
Dozens of the meetings are popping up, and in some surprising sectors. In Paris there have been three unconferences devoted to banking and finance. In February, Toronto Transit Camp was a day-long brainstorming session about improving public transit in the city. ArtCamp, held in Vancouver, included a session on "Photoconceptualism and the Moving Image." Wine-Camp, which, along with wine-tasting, was dedicated to the ways nonprofits use technology, was held at a vineyard in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains last spring.
An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is driven and created by the participants, generally day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than by a single organizer, or small group of organizers, in advance. To date, the term is primarily in use in the geek community. Unconference processes like Open Space Technology, however, have been around for over 20 years in other contexts.
One hundred fifty (150) youth from Kalamazoo gathered for an unconference or Open Space on Saturday, April 22, 2006, to create their own program around the central theme of “Creating a Positive Future for the Youth in Kalamazoo.”
Their topics ranged from Teen Sexuality to Real World Fears and Racism to Teen Jobs to Teen Clubs to Real Talk to More things to do in Kalamazoo to Space for Music. A total of seventeen group-generated topics were discussed through out the daylong conference. The topics were ranked and reported back to community leaders so that they could focus budget expenditures and community resources accordingly.