Session type:


Presented by:

Mike Press

Open Change

Lorri Smyth

Sopra Steria

Barbara Mertlova

Open Change

Session time:

16 Sep 18:00 19:00

Session duration:

60 minutes

About the session

  • Unwind

  • Meet new folk

  • Connect with those you know

  • Make conversation

  • Be inspired

With a special guest and an opportunity for positive reflection on what we’ve learned over the last eighteen months.

Includes music and a waterfall chat.


What have we learned? A one-hour highly structured session with a focus on small group discussions around a central theme and a guest speaker in conversation for eight minutes to provide focus.

An opportunity for positive reflection on what we have learned about our work and practices over the last eighteen months.

For fifteen weeks from the end of March 2020 we ran a weekly one hour ‘Distanced Gathering’ for Scotland’s service design community, but open to anyone. This has since evolved into a monthly event with 30-60 participants.

The format is intentionally fast paced and extensively uses the Breakout Rooms feature within Zoom. The focus is on small group conversations about how we are all coping, what we hope for in the future, and increasingly what we are doing to build back better.

As the Gatherings have evolved we have increasingly moved towards having a central theme for all the discussions, that focus on the interests of a special guest. We started these events during the first lockdown when there were high levels of isolation and anxiety.

While this has clearly changed over time, the feeling we aim to provide has not. We want people to feel connected to each other through conversation, to know that despite physical isolation, they can still meet new folk and enjoy chance encounters and build a real sense of community. We want people to feel energised and to focus on the positive.

We set up Randomised Coffee Trials to maintain this feeling between events, which currently involves 80+ members of the service design community.

The outcomes of all the discussions we have during every Gathering are captured and shared back with the community on Slack, providing an anonymised archive of the conversations. A highly interactive, energetic and uplifting element.

This session will be:

  • Delivered: Live
  • Recorded: No
  • Has a participant number cap: No
  • Includes: Participation and discussion

Themes: Reflective Practice, Communities, Communications, Learning

About the speaker(s)