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:
Open Space Techonology Format
Open Mic / Open Knowledge evenings
Online Networks Platform
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?