Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Last week I helped out with a big conversation for 250 consultants belonging to a global practice. The agenda was.... blank. Literally, there was no agenda. Is that a recipe for chaos or what? Well yes it is chaotic - but not in the headless chicken sense.
My good friend added just enough structure to make the whole thing swing. First off gather everybody together and ask them what they want to talk about. Issues get written on a flipchart and presented to all by the originator for 1 minute max. We got about 10 offers for conversations. Johnnie then goes through the offers and asks for a show of hands for each. There are no constraints on issues to talk about - no holds barred. If a subject is poor, no one will want to talk about it. Once everyone knows which conversation they're going to join, the group splits up and starts talking, each conversation facilitated by the originator. Notes are kept by a volunteer. People are encouraged to leave a conversation whenever they want, join another or sit on their own. After an hour or so, we return to plenary and the floor is opened to comment and feedback.

The result: a great buzz, lots of energy and clearly a lot of headway made in each conversation, in terms of understanding, clarity and alignment. The possibilities are endless...

The whole thing rests on a fine balance between structure and chaos.

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