Chaordinators Toolbox: The Planning Party (Human Rights MakerLab case study)


The MakerLab is an autonomous event, it’s a co-created action. This autonomy functions best within a frame (note: I still need to write the post on frame design), and has to begin somewhere.

The Planning Party marks the beginning of opening the process – an event catalyst to begin actions, inspire and create opportunities for co-creation. It should:
Set the context for the event
Create the space and opportunity for people to meet, engage, and become inspired as to the theme
Capture those initial sparks of inspiration, and desires for action
Communicate clearly the opportunities and needs of the lab
Start a community of collaborators

So how to do this?

  1. Create an invitation
  2. Share with your network and beyond, invite anyone you think may be interested (also create the opportunity for those who don’t attend to contribute)
  3. Prepare an environment which is comfortable – beers in the fridge, music, and in this instance a barbeque
  4. Prepare the process structures (you are free to do your own process, below is ours)
  5. Do the event
  6. Stand back in wonder at what awesome ideas come out when you let people get on with it.
  7. As things start to wind down ask people to help you clean up
  8. Go home or go out and dance

Process

The process is primarily focused on:

  • Clearly communicated structures for engagement
  • Clear objectives/expectation of outcomes and needs

Then leaving space for people to engage. This was created as a response to my discomfort with:

  • Large circles of people draining each others creative energy over long periods of time – also known by some as meetings.
  • Tightly managed, structured processes that people are herded through, often interrupting them at the moment of insight, or not allowing for the random pleasures of conversation that can lead to new ideas.

Both of the above I have experienced discomfort with as both participant and as facilitator.

This process instead focuses on creating space and opportunities for ideas to emerge, for people to enjoy themselves and create ideas over beers and barbeque, whilst making new friends. The structures are merely to help set the context, break the ice, and allow for information capture. The process consists of the following:

  1. Introduction
    Introduce theme, present MakerLab – in our case we took from our previous experiences which you can find on our blog – this helps to demonstrate that it is possible to create an event in 3 weeks autonomously, and show how much fun it is to get involved.
  2. Explain how process will work
    In this instance, we had 3 core communication structures:

    • Talk to Me Bubbles – in these people were encouraged to write in “sparks” to conversation – an idea they had or a question relating to the theme. This serves as an icebreaker and begins conversations – not everybody requires this, but it helps to begin conversations from a different starting point to “where you from, what do you do?” To further help the process we placed some starting topics of conversation that people could adopt should they wish.
    • Idea Cards – Important for capture of ideas, a card where people can write the following information – Name, Email, Idea, What they need to make the idea happen – request that people fill these in when they have an idea.
    • Needs board – to clearly communicate where we need support and assistance – encourage people to read and add to these.
  3. Point out the direction of Beers, and Barbeque, switch on the tunes (not too loud) and let everyone get on with it.

I will post the outcomes of the process in another post (I haven’t reviewed them yet myself – it’s the weekend), but at the end of the evening about 25 people met, 16 ideas were on the wall (each with a committed individual attached), with several more in incubation and due over email.

More importantly, at the end of the evening a group of former strangers were engaged intensely in conversation, discussion and mutual inspiration. Everyone was having fun.

It’s worth noting that this process wasn’t just for ideation, these are ideas that people will build together.

Compare this with your own planning experiences and consider giving this a try.

If you want to experience the joys of chaordination and empowered autonomy first hand then feel free to join us for the Human Rights MakerLab on June 6th -10th email me to get involved.

If you need proof the process works – this method is a reiteration of that applied at the Makerplatz – there was a second planning event which I will describe later, but this was the launch point 3 weeks prior to the event.

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