Session type:


Presented by:

Mike Press

Open Change

Hazel White

Open Change

Barbara Mertlova

Open Change

Session time:

16 Sep 14:00 15:30

Session duration:

90 minutes

About the session

How do we facilitate remote sessions that are open, convivial and productive? Drawing on our experience during the pandemic of running sessions for a variety of government and public organisations, we provide a practical hands-on exploration of key issues and the methods that work. The workshop will provide opportunities to share experiences and capture best practices.

There is a clear need for skilled facilitation and creation of the spaces to explore and have frank and honest conversations.

These words were written two years ago by Collective Leadership for Scotland - the movement to promote new models of leadership across Scottish Government and the public sector. The pandemic made the need for this more acute as public bodies were faced with a unique and complex set of challenges.

During this period we have worked with a wide range of organisations - national and local government, non-government public bodies, third sector organisations and an NHS Board. While their approaches to communications and decision-making ranged considerably (from formal and protective to informal and open), we focused on the “creation of the spaces to explore and have frank and honest conversations”.

As service designers we are in the business of creating scaffolds - within which people work collaboratively to build alternative futures. That plays to our strengths - and meets the needs of a world facing multiple crises that demand democratic solutions. Our scaffolds must enable, support and encourage active learning, creative interaction and safety and confidence. But most crucially they must support us in having conversations.

Our experience since March 2020 has provided us with three lessons regarding the vital role of conversation.

  • First, conversations make design work - conversations are fundamental to our process, our thinking. They enable collaborative approaches - the co-creation of new solutions. They allow shared interests and perspectives to be identified and acted upon.
  • Second, conversations are democratic. As such we have to encourage and support people in the craft of conversational democracy - to be active listeners, to contribute with kindness and respect, to see exchange as a virtue. Democratic conversations are about making sure that we hear the quiet people. Conversations enable diverse voices to contribute, be heard and included.
  • Finally, conversations come first. They prioritise everything else. They must come first in our planning and preparation: everything else fits around them. Whatever we do, we do not start with technology. Or methods. We start with conversations and we figure out what we need to do to let them take place.

Participant takeaways:

  • A richer understanding of the role of conversation in remote facilitation
  • Facilitation methods for supporting and capturing conversations in a service design context
  • Insights and lessons that arise from cases and examples shared in the workshop

This session will be:

  • Delivered: Live
  • Recorded: No
  • Has a participant number cap: No
  • Includes: Participants sharing their own experiences and approaches

Themes: Methods, Facilitation, Discussion, Meetings

About the speaker(s)