On an earlier blog I said that we would share our initial thinking of the RSA networks project priorities in the next three months or so. So - I apologise in advance for the length of this posting, but I hope it generates some fruitful discussion about how we are proposing to go forwards.
Before getting into the specifics, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who is contributing, creating, and generating with us. We always said this was going to be a learning process, and I hope you feel that there is a genuine openness to collaborating in new and exciting ways. That said, we need to be careful that 'learning by doing' doesn't become a veil for 'making it up as we go along', so the following proposed priorities and areas of work are offered in the spirit of trying to give some structure to what needs to happen next, if we are to build on everything we've done together so far.
A major priority between January and April 2008 has to be to get some of the rich discussions happening on the RSA networks platform to turn into more substantive pieces of work. A number of early ideas are gathering real momentum, with meetings being fixed and connections being made. Our network facilitators will be really focusing on this in the new year. By the way, if you're interested in joining our staff team of facilitators, we'd welcome you with open arms! See here for more information.
But the RSA networks project was never simply about getting new collaborations off the ground. There's a bigger game to play here too, and that is to fundamentally remodel the relationship between the Fellowship and the organisation. Many of the ideas that emerged on the 22nd, and in conversations around that day, were focused on the 'how will it work?' part of the Open Space question we used.
Looking across all these discussions, we think that we can spot some common themes, and between January and March we want to set up 'developer groups' around each of these themes, made up of interested Fellows and key staff members, in order to imagine how things might work differently in the future.
These themes include:
- Offline interactions - remodelling existing meetings e.g. lectures, and introducing new ones, e.g. the 'let's do lunch' idea. There's a meeting arranged for this on 25th January, to bring together Fellows and staff interested in discussing ideas. To find out more, check out this page on the platform.
- Use of space - what can the RSA do to facilitate spaces and places to meet, both in London and beyond. Malcolm Forbes has volunteered to arrange a meeting to explore this theme, so watch out on the platform for more information.
- Online tools for collaboration - a developer group began the work that led to the platform in this first phase of the project, and we want to maintain that group as we move towards the launch of the new website, and the growth of the platform. Anshuman is organising the next meeting for this theme, and will post on the platform when he's found the right date.
- Fellowship recruitment and welcome - what kind of Fellows do we want, and what experience should they have in their first year of Fellowship?
- Fellow-to-Fellow opportunities - there were lots of ideas around mentoring, sharing experiences and offering support, ranging from meetings, to Fellows funding other Fellows' ideas
- Links between emerging networks and the Programme - what kind of quality framework should the RSA have in place to determine which ideas to support more substantially? Laura Bunt has started a discussion here about this question.
A really central principle of the RSA networks project is that we want to 'eat our own medicine' - in other words, that the project itself is a co-created effort between Fellows and staff. I'd be very interested in your thoughts about how to make these proposed 'developer groups' work most effectively. Some thoughts we've had from you already is to set up wikis for each; others have suggested that we set time limits for conversations to provide some clarity about the terms of engagement; and of course it's essential that everyone is clear about how any final decisions are made, and by whom.
I know that we haven't always got this attempt at co-creation right, but I hope you feel that this proposed way forward chimes with our aspiration. And I'm sure if you disagree, you'll let us know!
So all that's left for me to say for now is a very Happy Christmas to all of you. I'm really looking forward to working with you all in 2008. All the best