When I was at Camden, in our experiment to use space to bring together people to develop projects to help tackle the climate crisis, we thought about how we support collaborations. We didn’t just want to help people develop projects to tackle the climate crisis, we wanted to use the diversity of networks using the space to connect projects, ideas & people to develop collaborations that can turn into movements! I’ve written about the different ways you can run these types of activities from ad-hoc events to sustained programmes.
What did we want to test?
We wanted to help people develop projects together, connect with other people around common challenges and help them take forward collaborations together.
What did we have
Ideas that people have thought about through being in the space. We used the activities and the design of the space to get people imagining ways to tackle the climate crisis in their neighbourhood, so there were ideas developed through the activities and ideas that popped into people’s heads that they could post on our Ideas Wall.
Ideas which have been tested and become projects. We invited people who are already running activities and projects to tackle the climate crisis. They may be running sessions in the space or may be ideas tested locally.
Projects which have been going for a while. They were mature projects which may have defined ways of tackling an issue and doing things. They benefited from that exposure and reach but could benefit from some external challenge to help them pivot or improve.
Projects which have turned into networks or organisations. There were groups of people who initially worked on a project and that scaled up to such an extent that it gave birth to new projects and ideas so they’ve taken the step to organise the community. They were cohesive groups and could benefit from learning from other communities.
Who did we want to come?
People with ideas. These people wanted other people to believe in their ideas and help to take them forward. We needed to listen to what motivates them and how the spirit & methods they’re using could be connected to other ideas or projects on a similar theme, without everyone trying to advance only their idea at the expense of other people’s.
People who wanted to come up with ideas. These people wanted the opportunity to brainstorm ideas with other people. We needed to create the space for them to connect with other people and bounce off each other.
People who wanted to test ideas. These people were ready and eager to make their ideas turn into reality. They needed specific help with design, communications, space, equipment, technology and other people to form a group. We connected them to those people and also identified the hypothesis they wanted to test to connect them to people tackling similar issues.
People who wanted to facilitate collaboration. These people were less about promoting individual ideas and more about how to support people to collaborate. They needed people who want to collaborate and who had a common interest. We needed to support these people to facilitate and create questions that can help them guide people towards collaborating.
People who wanted to promote their ideas or projects. These people had already implemented their ideas or projects and wanted an audience to use or take part in them. We needed to connect them to different audiences and to people with similar ideas or projects so they can promote a wider movement than just their ideas.
People who wanted to connect people & ideas around a similar theme. These people loved connecting people and creating movements. They needed people who share a common need or interest and who’ve got the energy and networks to make it happen. We supported them to get in between the facilitated sessions and more open spaces to be able to make the connections and share their stories.
People who wanted to scale. These people saw projects all around them work really well and then not be able to grow and sustain. They wanted to bring their skills to help projects scale in different ways. We identified people with different skills & experiences of scaling to help people developing collaborative projects to think about how to sustain the energy.
Curating journey of systems change
We thematised each week around a stage in the journey of systems change for this space. Every Saturday morning, we’ helped people develop collaborations, focused on the stage in the journey we’re on and the themes that have risen to the surface.
We first checked in and help people get to know each other. We then shared what people have learnt over the week through the different feedback and stories we’ve got to set the context and connect their creativity to create collaborations with all the activity that’s taken place over the week. A long tail of insights and action if you will!
Before we got into creating collaborations, we wanted to open up people’s imaginations in different and radical ways, to challenge and inspire them. There are many methods of creating change and we got the diversity of people and experiences that people can learn new methods every week.
We then got practical and had different facilitators to help people collaborate. In advance, we clustered ideas and projects people have put forward into themes. We then grouped people by those themes and support them to collaborate.
- What’s the common challenge your ideas/projects are trying to tackle?
- What elements of your ideas & projects can you mutualise to form one collaborative project
- What skill & resource can you each bring to make this a sustainable project?
- What could you test over the next week to see how well it’s tackling the issue and what you need to work on next weekend?
We then provided exercises & methods that help people take forward the collaboration in between sessions. That way we built energy & momentum in between the Think, Do & Makes!