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Thursday, 22 November 2007

A Sense of Fellowship

I was privileged to attend the RSA Networks Workshop today and I wanted to share some of the things that I personally took away. To describe briefly the Open Space method, this involved discussion items being proposed by the participants, which then formed the agenda for each discussion period. Most discussion groups were then made up of 8 – 12 people approximately.

My overriding feeling from the day has been a huge sense of fellowship. And this was equally between Fellows and RSA staff, who hosted and participated fully in the day. In all the groups there were really stimulating discussions, a real passion around issues which ranged from positively engaging teenagers, climate change to RSA’s role within communities.

I will watch with great interest to see the ‘output’ of all these discussions, but am really much more interested in seeing how this sense of fellowship, shared purpose and individual drives can spread renewed energy from 250 Fellows today to the entire fellowship of the RSA, and out from there into our smaller and important local communities.

The demonstration of the new website was very well presented and the initial simplicity of the system will help attract larger numbers to register and take part. The very open processes in place to allow for feedback will undoubtedly lead to a continual stream of developments as the requirements become more apparent through use.

I love computers. They have lots of very nice neat coloured boxes which make things feel controlled and manageable. But I have a sneaky, and rather pleasant feeling that we are in the middle of wonderfully messy, very human process which could lead to even more exciting work in our communities led and initiated by groups of spirited, creative and excitable Fellows who seem equally willing to be inspired as inspire.

Thank you to everyone at the RSA for a superbly organised and interesting day. More days for more Fellows please!

More perspectives are sure to follow on this blog and on the RSA Networks Blog .


Dominic said...

I'm already confused a little by the various blogs, fora, etc that are running ... :-) and no I don't love computers but they are very useful tool.

A summary from what I commented to the openrsa google group - one main reason I got involved or perhaps was asked to be active as a Fellow back in '97/98 was to push for active engagement of the Fellows,
and use of their expertise, knowledge, experience - intellectual if for no other capital.

Transparency and involvement definitely are part of the way forward of the RSA and its Fellows - objectives setting, strategy, programme of activity/research etc., and seeing Fellows as part of finding possible solutions.

Software, and social networking tools go some way, though many will
not be particpants that way (lack of always on, and higher speed
ADSL / CATV connections are part of it). I saw David's presentation to
the ICT Hub National Conference earlier this year, and it was
persuasive. Yet I see few of my generation (early '50s, so pre-PC/MAC) on ecademy, linkedin, plaxo, or facebook.

Keeping tools simple to use is a good design guideline ...... but not forgetting that physically meeting, seeing, talking is still very, if not most, important.

How whatever happened yesterday to be discussed, considered, reacted to, developed etc are clearly open questions - and particularly interesting to those who participated as well as those who didn't.

fiona coffey said...

Hi Tessy, Dominic, David and all

I agree, yesterday was an incredible day, brilliantly orchestrated, and a glimpse of everything RSA can be, right here and now. Truly inspiring. Thanks David for doing the blog and the videos, I think this Open RSA Space is a wonderful complement to the 'official' sites, even though sometimes, like Dominic, I find myself wondering where I should choose to post a comment.

I am now seriously in a 'we must not let this slip away' place, I really want to make sure we build on what's been achieved, and I've got lots of thoughts brewing but there's one immediate idea I want to float. It's about how the 200 reach out to the wider fellowship. I'm thinking email broadcasts or invitation to visit site won't quite do it, but how about if all 200 committed to telephone 5 other fellows, randomly selected, to tell them about the day and ask them about their experience of changing RSA? And how about if each of those telephoned was asked to ring one other person? I make that 2000 people reached more personally by this experience. I reckon we need to do this in the next 2 weeks to have impact and I think it's doable with a little help from the centre. I'd love to make it happen, and I'm thinking I'll be in RSA on Monday...would anyone be prepared to comment, build, encourage or tell me I'm off my trolley first?

Tessy Britton said...

What a great idea Fiona! The thoughts around how to transmit the good feelings from Thursday are very important. What is clear from your suggestion, and what has been emerging in my mind too, is that the responsibility and initiative for this spreading of energy and enthusiasm has be taken not just by the RSA, but by the Fellows themselves. Couldn't we set up smaller but similarly open and collaborative spaces for discussion where we live? The Open Space format is great, but short open mic sessions for Fellows to discuss their work and interests could potentially work really well too. And these can be arranged with very little lead time or cost.

As much as I loved the discussions themselves what was really interesting was discovering through those conversations the amazing work of individual Fellows.

davidwilcox said...

Developing a 'telephone tree' as Fiona suggests would both spread engagement in a low-tech way, and also help us to sharpen up the nature of the invitation/offer. Perhaps we could develop the idea with the new network facilitators that Susan Bulter talks about in her interview?