Read about the RSA Networks event - see the videos

Information about RSA networks and OpenRSA here. More about this blog, and how to join in.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Making Connecting and Initiating Easy

The RSA Networks project has been full of enthusiasm and desire from both the RSA and the Fellows to 'get connected'.

My observation, having followed the project since its launch, is that for some Fellows this has been easy, but for others there are often invisible barriers to participation. These barriers can be categorised as psychological and practical.

In order to encourage 'connecting' the RSA South Central Region has taken a strategic decision to actively encourage Fellows starting up their own groups, either local groups or interest groups.

Looking at the potential barriers of participation we are looking at a 'toolkit' which could overcome reticence to take a more active, initiating role within the RSA network, rather than the more conventional but passive, member's role.

I good analogy is that of a plug and a socket. We normally assume they just fit. But humans are very complex and need someway of translating their willingness to 'plug in' to the network, into action. A conversion kit.

Some of the items that have been discussed have been:

Permission – Can we start a new RSA group?


Process - how do you get the ball rolling, what help is available, etc

Funds - Group start-up event costs, project funding

Stimulation – Ideas, sharing case studies etc

Guidance – How to communicate, promote, manage an event – generate group interest and engagement - realistic expectations

Practical tools and participatory formats:

Guide Booklet
Open Dinners
Open Space Techonology Format
Open Mic / Open Knowledge evenings
Online Networks Platform
Video Conferencing
Central Fellows listings

A fantastic example of this toolkit idea was published this morning. Red Nose Day published their fundraising kit (available for download -Red Nose Fundraising Kit). The kit (brochure) tries to take away every possible reason not to participate. They give you ideas, encouragement, case studies, sponsorship forms... They make participation feel worthwhile, fun, easy, low risk.

This project i.e. to create a 'connecting toolkit' to encourage participation and initiation, can only be done successfully with the input of lots of different sorts of RSA Fellows: new and longstanding, urban and rural, shy and wildly extrovert, retired and working, IT savvy ... or not...

What barriers do we need to overcome? How can we communicate and excite? What do we need to make? How can we collaborate in making it brilliant? How can Fellows contribute to it? What role should RSA Networks take?


davidwilcox said...

Thanks Tessy - this is brilliant.
The kit components look excellent. One query: how far is that all about communication and collaboration process ... and how far does it have to be tied to some sort of purpose?
Red Nose Day says very clearly "do something funny for money".
Matthew Taylor said last year that he sees RSA as "the RAC of civic activism".
Fellows will have their individual and group objectives.
Does purpose matter - or can the kit be all-purpose?

noel said...

We created a toolkit here for the living wage and are now thinking of creating an all-purpose campaign toolkit, so similar debate to what you're having about whether purpose matters.

More than anything, its about showing what people can do with the tools - whether it's just them as individuals, small groups or wider communities. It's also about the "big ask" - something I learnt from the Obama campaign. Don't make the toolkit too perfect, leave parts of it "unfinished" so fellows feel slightly frustrated and get the urge to tell u how it can be improved (hopefully by testing the tools out).

davidwilcox said...

Thanks Noel - I hope you'll be interested in joining in on this one. I had a great meeting with RSA Fellow Robert Brook who does skunkworks for Parliament and ideas started to spark. More after today's workshop.