Meetings & Conferences
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AmericaSpeaks' 21st Century Town Meeting method creates engaging, meaningful opportunities for citizens to participate in public decision making. This unique process updates the traditional New England town meeting to address the needs of today's citizens, decision makers and democracy.
The World Café is an easy-to-use method for creating a living network of collaborative dialogue around questions that matter to the real-life situations of your organizations or community. In this beautifully illustrated booklet, Juanita Brown collaborates with Nancy Margulies and the World Café Community to articulate seven guiding principles for people to use to host their own Café. Learn about the thousands of people on five continents who have experienced the World Café, a model for setting up the ideal Café for your group, the roles of the hosts, crafting powerful questions, Café assumptions and etiquette, and more.
AmericaSpeaks, a non-profit organization, engages citizens in the public decisions that impact their lives through their innovative 21st Century Town Meetings, as well as citizen engagement consulting, strategic planning services, and public speaking. Their one-way e-newsletter, geared towards their network of AmericaSpeaks facilitators, is sent out once a month.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives "life" to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system's capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential.
The World Cafe Community Foundation, 2002.
This concise 7-page guide to the World Café covers the basics of the process. It includes brief outlines of each principle, a description of Café Etiquette, an outline of key elements of the World Café conversations, and tips for creating Café ambiance.
The concept of the "Conversation Dinner" seems to have come from Theodore Zeldin. For this simple process, people are split into pairs and given a "conversation menu" from which they can choose their conversation topics. The menu could have a subject area theme such as "intergroup dialogue" or it could be a generic menu listing personal questions designed to help people to get to know each other. Conversation Meetings may or may not happen over meals; sometimes partners are encouraged to take walks together. Whatever the situation, privacy is key.
CoVision supports process consultants and executives with methods, tools and capacity to affect change through increased collaboration. Over 14 years and 3,000 meetings, CoVision has provided large groups (and small) with a simple and effective 'fast-feedback' capability.
The Dialogue Mapping Workshop is a two-day course for managers, project leaders, facilitators, and consultants who work with groups on ill-structured (or "wicked") problems, such as the issues involved in complex high-tech projects. The Dialogue Mapping Workshop introduces participants to a new approach to problem solving that centers on collective sense making. Dialogue Mapping is about creating the highest possible level of shared understanding and ownership about the issues, decisions, and agreements involved in a project.
Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. Berrett-Koehler, 2007.
Weisbord and Janoff - creators of the Future Search method - offer ten principles that will allow you to get more done in meetings by doing less. The key is knowing what you can and can?t control. You can?t control people?s motives, behavior, or attitudes. But you can control the conditions under which people interact, and you can control your own reactions. Based on over 30 years of experience and research, the authors show exactly how to establish a meeting structure that will create conditions for success, efficiency, and productivity. Equally important, they offer advice for making sure your own emotions don't get in the way - for knowing when to "just stand there" rather than intervene inappropriately, unproductively, or futilely.
Over the past 10 years, the Forums Institute for Public Policy has developed Informed Contemplative Dialogue, a successful method of engaging stakeholders in not only talking about an issue, but also learning new perspectives and sharing information with others beyond the forum itself. Unlike most group gatherings whose goal is to support cohesive group effort, the goal of a Policy Forum using Informed Contemplative Dialogue is to provide participants what they need to think about an issue and to take action within their own sphere of influence.
The 2004 NCDD Conference Planning Team (design and layout by NCDD's Creative Director, Andy Fluke). National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), 2006.
The third NCDD conference (we feel, the best of the three!) took place in San Francisco, California in August 2006. The conference was designed to give us all a better sense of who we are as a community of practice, field, and/or movement, and provide us with a stronger sense of where we should go from here if we want to truly have the impact we believe we could and should have on the world.
In Western Australia the Department for Planning and Infrastructure has taken a leading role in exploring innovations in community engagement, with 21st century town meetings, deliberative surveys, citizens' juries, multi criteria analysis conferences and consensus forums. In May 2005 they assembled in Perth some of the most progressive innovators and experts from the USA and Australia, who led a unique experiment in community engagement. Over two days these initiators and experts took more than 300 participants through their leading edge techniques.
Learning circles are a cooperative teaching and learning method that draws on personal stories and experiences to find creative solutions to community issues and concerns. By emphasizing personal experience over professional know-how, learning circles depend on open dialogue and careful listening. Coming together to explore a common problem or questions, participants in learning circles work closely over the course of two days (or longer) to challenge and develop each other's skills and understandings.
The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and BTW Consultants, 2004.
Meetings are a ubiquitous, time-consuming, and often expensive feature of organizational life. They range from ad hoc meetings of two or three people to multi-day events with hundreds of speakers and thousands participants. To maximize the value of meetings, grantmakers who fund them and organizations that sponsor them must be clear about their objectives and must think strategically about both the benefits and costs of the events. This packet includes three tools that provide a series of questions to be asked of meeting planners or foundation staff in considering whether a meeting is the best strategy for accomplishing the desired results.
Playback Theatre is practiced in hundreds of settings in many localities and cultures around the world, as both an art form and a means of generating community power and possibility. This improvisational form of communication was developed in 1975 by Jonathan Fox in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York. The National Playback Theater ensemble, which performed at the 2004 NCDD conference, was founded by Leilani Rashida Henry to integrate the principles of art, spontaneity and authenticity to facilitate dialogue and enhance cohesion and transformation within organizations and communities.
Lars Hasselblad Torres. NCDD, 2004.
Lars Torres submitted this commentary for NCDD's website on January 25, 2004. It begins "There is something refreshing about the world's largest dialogue on globalization, and it is this: encounters with more than 100,000 people from around the world who believe deeply that 'another world is possible.' This statement, the slogan of the World Social Forum since its inception, is a tacit recognition that the world would be better off pursuing a different path than the present neoliberal trajectory of globalization....
Since 1997, Open Futures has facilitated 63 large group events involving 4,176 participants or an average of 66 people per event. Open Futures specializes in six large-group, whole system processes: Open Space, Future Search, Giant Mind Maps, Vision Search, Strategy Search and the Perth Process. In 2003, they published The Large Group Facilitator's Manual and, using the manual as a professional platform, Open Futures offers open training workshops or customized workshops in understanding, planning and running large group events involving from 20 to 500 people.
Open Space Technology, created by Harrison Owen, is a self-organizing practice that releases the inherent creativity and leadership in people. By inviting people to take responsibility for what they care about, Open Space establishes a marketplace of inquiry, where people offer topics they care about, reflect and learn from one another, to accomplish meaningful work. It is recognized internationally as an innovative approach to creating whole systems change and inspiring the best in human performance.
Harrison Owen, Open Space Institute. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1997.
Open Space Technology: A User's Guide is just what the name implies: a hands-on, detailed description of facilitating Open Space Technology (OST). Written by the originator of the method--an effective, economical, fast, and easily-repeatable strategy for organizing meetings of 5 to 1,000 participants--this is the first book to document the rationale, procedures, and requirements of OST. OST enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with hugely complex issues in a very short period of time. This practical, step-by-step user's guide details what needs to be done before, during, and after an Open Space event.
Sandy Heierbacher. National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), 2003.
The first NCDD conference was held in October 2002 outside of Washington, DC in Alexandria, Virginia. This 28-page report includes a letter from the conference director outlining what worked and what could be improved, a list of who made the conference happen, a listing of all workshops offered at the conference, a description of the three plenary sessions and their outcomes, descriptions of the 12 "next steps groups" that formed at the conference, and a detailed look at whether we met our initial goals.
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