Archive for the ‘Conference design & details’ Category

Show Me the Change Conference begins

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

IMG_2493As I sit here it’s mid-afternoon on the first day on the long-anticipated Show Me the Change Conference. About 180 people have gathered in Melbourne to explore topics and pose questions, share ideas and tools around evaluating behaviour change. I’ve met people with a wealth of experience and others bring new enthusiasm; there’s conversations of all shapes and sizes; there’s the usual challenges of working in large groups.

Chris Corrigan opened space this afternoon and about 40 topics went up on the wall to be discussed today and tomorrow. I can sense more topics brewing.

While many people have experienced Open Space as a process before, for many people it’s their first open space gathering. Open space taps into people’s passion around the topic and enables them to set the agenda (rather than a designated group pre-determining what everyone wants to talk about/listen to). Open space is an example of complexity in action.

Every now and again it’s good to be reminded about what makes open space work. Many of us try and intellectualise too much, and make it more complicated than it needs to be. Harrison Owen reminds us about the four principles and one law of open space, and what these mean in terms of the practice of open space in our lives and organisations.

The Principles:
Whoever comes are the right people
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
Be prepared to be surprised!
Whenever it starts is the right time
When it’s over, it’s over.

The Law of Two Feet
If, at any time, you find yourself in a place where you are not contributing or not learning, then use your two feet and go somewhere else.

In response to a comment on the Open Space List regarding internalising these principles and law, Harrison Owen, wrote the following. I think there’s great wisdom in this.

I suspect that it is more a matter of remembering what we already know and for one reason or another have chosen to repress. All of this goes with the idea that Open Space is truly not something new and radically different. In fact it is a forceful confrontation with a pre-existing condition. We are already in Open Space by virtue of the fact that we have forever been in a self organizing world (the usual 13.7 billion years stuff).

The Law and the Principles are descriptive of normative behavior in a self organizing world, and therefore Open Space, I think. In short, we do all of the above all the time — unfortunately we usually feel guilty about it, and because of this, we tend to do it/them badly, or at least awkwardly and grudgingly. Thus with the Law: when faced with a nonproductive situation (no learning, no contribution) we always leave (hearts and mind out the window) — but the body remains feeling miserable, and making others miserable as well. Once we get the picture, things work better, and we feel a lot better. But it is not about doing something new, or internalizing some new truth — but rather remembering what we already knew and doing what we should/could have been doing in the first place.

Why bother with all this? Well if nothing else, I think it makes our job as consultants and facilitators a lot easier. First of all we are not inviting our clients to engage in risky behavior. Quite the opposite, we are opening a space in which they can really be themselves. And the real risk is to continue with the non-productive, guilt inducing, dependant behavior. The old Marxist Battle Cry might have some application here (with modification): People of the World Unite — You have nothing to lose but your chains.” In a word — Be yourself!

Hear, hear!

Viv McWaters

Who's coming … so far

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

With a fortnight to go, here’s a visual-snapshot of the organisations, departments and groups are coming to share their wisdom at Show Me The Change.

The bigger the name appears … the bigger the number coming from that Tribe.

With only 2 weeks left to register, who else could be on this list. Who else can you invite along from within your own networks?


For a full list of people and groups visit this page.

Cheers, Geoff Brown

Post Conference Tyranny Busting!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

In the organisational world, there is a prevailing idea that change is difficult and stressful, and that innovation is scarce and requires effortful management to succeed. Overlay evaluation and is it any wonder we get stuck? iStock_000006967350

We’re going to explore how this is reflected in three tyrannies:

  • The tyranny of the explicit and the fear of not knowing.
  • The tyranny of excellence and the fear of not being good enough.
  • The tyranny of effort and the fear of failure.

Once you can recognise these tyrannies and the effects they have on how we work, the next step is to bust them. We’re planning to explore these tyrannies and highlight some ways to bust them with a series of practical and impractical exercises. We’re going to reveal our own prejudices about facilitating change and innovation, which emphasize letting go of the effort to be spectacular in favour of being open to surprise and attentive to small ideas instead of chasing grandiose visions.

These are based on years of wrinkle-inducing experience, and in particular our shared interests in Open Space, improvisation and creativity. With a special nod to Keith Sawyer’s recent book, Group Genius. Keith says, among other things, that “virtually all of the conventional wisdom on creativity and innovation is false”. That has a few implications for behaviour change programs, we think.

Exactly what will happen depends, as always, on who turns up. We can promise a range of verbal, physical (but not difficult), meditative, reflective, amusing and extraordinary activities all designed to help you notice more.

If you go on to use all this to help yourself and others to be more creative, more fulfilled, more beautiful, thinner, richer, healthier, then we’ll be delighted for you. But no pressure.

Oh, and we think this also might help in our understanding of complexity and behaviour change, and even evaluation.

This post-conference workshop will be hosted by  Johnnie Moore (UK) and Viv McWaters (Australia).

johnnie2g2 Johnnie Moore started his career as a speechwriter to Lord Sainsbury before working in advertising. After many years of successfully dressing mutton up as lamb, he became a facilitator working for a wildly varied array of clients from big fat corporates to small charities and all shades of organisation inbetween. He has worked with clients such as Johnson & Johnson, National Public Radio, O2, PwC, The Clore Leadership Programme, NESTA, American Express, the BBC and Channel 4.

Viv McWaters has dabbled in journalism, community education, science and improvisation, which makes an ideal platform for her current career as a facilitator.She works with people to tap into their creativity and leadership potential, and has worked in places as diverse as Armenia and Zambia.

Register here for this post conference workshop.

What's a circus got to do with evaluation of behaviour change?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

iStock_000008780927We’re having our conference dinner at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Prahran. It’s an amazing space and the circus students will be providing entertainment throughout the night.

The dinner itself is designed to enable continuing conversations and building of relationships. That’s because one of the key principles underpinning Show Me The Change is “conversations first, relationships, then transactions”. Why? Simply because transactions without a foundation of relationship are doomed to failure at worst, compliance at best.

The circus has transformed itself, from the use (and abuse) of animals to modern theatre, that still applies the ancient improvisation of clowning and physical theatre. It’s this transformation that is of interest to us as evaluators of behaviour change in complexity, and the concept of liminal space, that is so well articulated in the trapeze.

I wrote about liminal space here. Here’s a part of that post.

When you’re asking me to change a particular behaviour (even if it’s for my own good, or for the well-being of others, or even the planet) you’re asking me to let go of something familiar and take up something unfamilar. That space between letting go and grabbing on to something new is called liminal space. You’re asking me to enter a space of unknowing, of uncertaintly and of change. Is it any wonder I’m reluctant?

I’m more likely to enter liminal space if I think it’s OK, if I feel safe, and have some idea of what I’ll be grabbing onto. Think of it this way. If you were a trapeze artist, would you let go of the bar if there was no safety net and no-one on the other trapeze to catch you? Or if the trapeze is a bit of a stretch for you, think of monkey bars at the playground. Spend some time watching kids playing on them. There you can see liminal space in action. It’s not possible to make any progress on monkey bars unless you let go of one bar before grabbing hold of the next one. In fact, that’s probably an even better analogy for behavior change, because on the monkey bars, you usually hedge your bets – holding on to the previous bar with one hand while grabbing the next one with the other. Sooner or later though you STILL have to LET GO to progress.

So in our behaviour change programs, what are we asking people to let go of and how are we supporting them in liminal space?

So I’m looking forward to some great conversations and some great entertainment at the circus on Tuesday May 6. How about you? Click here to book for this great dinner.

Viv McWaters

Who else do you want to see at Show me the Change?

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The conference has already attracted a great number of participants from a wide variety of backgrounds. And as this conference is not one where “experts” will be doing all the “talking to you”, the diversity of people will make for passionate and thought-provoking conversations.

If you have already registered, who else do you know who has something to share or someting to learn from this conference? Why not let them know that you’ll be there, and that you would value their participation and exchange of ideas.  You can download a conference e-card from here, which you can use to email those whom you think should also attend.

Download the conference e-card

Download the conference e-card

How might we design a conference?

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I’ve been reading Tim Brown’s Change by Design and I’m surprised at how much the principles in the book about design thinking resonate around what Johnnie MooreChris CorriganAnne PattilloGeoff Brown and I have been doing for the Show Me the Change Conference.

In collaboration with the conference organisers and hosts we’ve created a design team to bring some edgy thinking and practices to the delivery of what could have been yet another predictable conference. We’re thinking this conference will be anything but predictable.

Tim says “design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognise patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols”. And while design thinking has mostly been applied to objects and their functionality, more and more the principles have been applied to services and experiences.

He also explains some other principles of design thinking:

  • building on one another’s good ideas
  • direct engagement with people
  • genuine reciprocity of interests
  • investigative learning
  • exploring questions around ‘how might we…’?
  • the challenge and excitement of applying design thinking to problems that matter
  • finding ways to encourage individuals to move towards more sustainable behaviours

So it seems that a conference that explores complexity and the art of evaluation within a context of behaviour change for sustainability just calls out for design thinking.

Viv McWaters

Post Conference Workshops locked in

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Five of the post conference workshops have been confirmed. To read more goto our Conference Program Page where you can download a full description of ‘the conference’ and ‘post-conference’ workshops.

During the design stage, it was clear that pre-conference workshops wouldn’t work . Show Me The Change is all about exploration of the new edges in evaluating behaviour change. It’s about contributing our experience and challenging ourselves (& each other) to explore new ways of working together. So, by the end of Day 2 of the conference itself, we will be armed with new insights and new ways of viewing the world. We will be ready to learn about some of the ‘new edges’ in evaluating behaviour change from our keynote-facilitators.

Here is the summary of fantastic post conference workshops that we have confirmed so far …

Post Conf Summaries_website.001

Our Approach to the design of Show Me The Change

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The conference design team and steering committee have been working behind the scenes for the past 6 months to design and co-create a conference-with-a-difference. In complex contexts like evaluating behaviour change, a business-as-usual appraoch to conference design just isn’t good enough.

Today is GO-LIVE day for the conference registrations and post conference workshops. The full program can be viewed here.

You can read about the approach taken and the principles that sit behind the design of Show Me The Change here. The slideshow below is a more entertaining way of reading about ‘Our Approach’. Please take a couple of short minutes to click through the slideshow (in Full Screen mode) and look forward to seeing you on May 4th!

Geoff Brown – Conference Design Team