C. tools for events

At events you can use all tools for meetings that I described before.
Here are some more tools you can use especially in big meetings and events with many people (up to hundreds or thousands…)

C.1. future workshop

The future workshop is a method developed by Robert Jungk, Rüdiger Lutz and Norbert R. Müllert. It is a method for inspiring the imagination of people and finding new solutions to problems they face, by geting to meet other perspectives.

The future workshop suits perfectly for the needs of nonexperienced people like kids and young people. In Germany it is used for coceptional formulations for mainly regional tasks and challenges, like for instance by municipalities for increasing civic participation. The process needs a lot of preparation and the supervision of an experienced coach/moderator though, and you should not mess around with it.

For your inspiration I will try to shortly sketch the method and process. I never moderated any future workshop myself, and my main source of information is talking with friends who are into future workshops and wikipedia. So I cannot tell you any more than what I say here. But I am sure you can find some good books about it, if you are interested.

The whole process usually takes about (at least) 2 days, and consists of 3 phases. Before it starts there is an introduction to the group, the topic and the working methods.

First phase: collecting criticm and complaints in a brainstorming (see: how to do a real brainstorming, in A3 ).
Second phase: phantasies and utopias. Collecting all the ideas of all the people who are there, no matter how “realistic” they are. Again as a brainstorming.
Third phase: practical realisation: people work with different project management tools to create a concept for realising their ideas.

After these 3 phases there is a fourth part for evaluation, reflection and feedback: now it is time to see what was the outcomes of the process were, how it was for the participants to go through that process, and what practical next steps they can take to go on….

C.2. world cafe

The world cafe is a method developed by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, who say about the method: “awakening and engaging collective intellegence through conversations about questions that matter”.

The aim is to create transparency about existing knowledge in the group and showing different perspectives, for developing solutions to important questions and challenges, which all participants have in common.

The world cafe takes 2-3 hours and works like this: There is different tables, which are covered with flipchart paper. On each table there is markers, and a host. The host stays on the table during all the world cafe. His/her main tasks is to keep a good atmosphere on the table, keep the discussion going, and take care of documentation of the main thoughts (onto the paper which covers the table). So (s)he should bring at least a bit of moderation experience and/or not be shy to talk in groups.

Before the world cafe, a group of people prepared the “questions that matter”, which should be answered in the world cafe. They should be formulated in a simple way, and be attractive and interesting for many people.

At each table there is about 5 participants, and they all talk about the same questions in the same time. About 25-30 minutes per question. After each round, the groups are mixed new and go to other tables with other people. Only he host is staying and presents the basic outcomes of the discussions who took place on this table before to the new people who arrive.
In the end there is a reflexion round.

You can find a lot os useful information around world cafes and basic principles at .

C.3. open space technology

The “open space technology” was “found” by Harrison Owen, who wanted to do a big congress, and had figured out before, that the most productive and creative time in congresses is the coffee breaks. This is why it is also referred to as the coffee break method. More precisely: it is a method that gives your coffee break a clear and structured form, without destroying the creative flow.
Open space actually is more than a method – it also is some kind of philosophy about how to support a self-organizing process with a dynamic structure.

To organise an open space is pretty easy. it would be good to attend an open space of any kind, before you moderate one. But you don’t necessarily have to be an experiences moderator.

You basically need a lots of space (separerate rooms!), some time, a lots of paper, pens and markers, maybe somes computers, and people (from about 12 to thousands). Prepare some buffet with snacks and drinks, too, so people can focus on working and don’t have to worry about that. The only thing that can make an open space go wrong is when there is not enough space and materials to make the energy which the people bring, and the to deal with a topic, focus onto something, and go somewhere (I know this from own experience…)

The basic elements of an open space are: The theme/issue, the “opening” of the “space” for that theme, the “market place”, a timetable, the workshop phases, a documentation wall and the closing down of the space.

In the beginning you all meet up to “open the space”. That is basically when a moderator tells all participants that the space for the issue is opened. There is a timetable with the different rooms and times on it, which is empty still. Everyone who wants to “host” a workshop about a subtopic related to the main theme can come to the front, present the topic of the workshop, and stick a paper with the topic onto the timetable board, into a free time and place that (s)he wants to do it. The timetable fills up with a days program. One workshop should be 1 1/2 hours maximum. And after two workshops there always is a real coffee break.

In the “market phase” you can discuss about moving workshops around in the timetable, changing them, or merging similar workshops into one. Then the workshop phase starts and people begin o move around in the open space.

  • Basic principles and Law of two feet*

There is 4 basic principles, and one “law”.
The 4 principles are. “Whoever comes is the right people”,
“Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened”,
“Whenever it starts is the right time”, and “When it’s over, it’s over. When it’s not over, it’s not over”.

The law is the “Law of two feet”:
“If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go to some other place where you may learn and contribute.”

What does this mean to what is happening in an open space?
Whenever you enter a room, it is the right time and right place to think and talk about the topic you came for. If there are not the people you expected in that room, it doesn’t matter, work with the people, who are here. If the person who was supposed to “host” the space is not there, do it wihout him/her. And even if nobody else is there and you are alone: take a paper and scribble down your thoughts. You are the right person to do it.

Whenever it starts, it starts. To early, to late, it does not matter. When you feel the energy has dissappeared, just leave and go somewhere else. If you feel that you need to keep gong with your process, just keep going!

The Law of the two feet sais, there is “butterflies” and “bumblebees”:
butterflies are moving around, and they are beautiful and inspiring. Bumblebees carry pollen of information from one place to the other. Both of them, butterflies and bumblebees, are equally important.

Make sure everything is documented well, and new people coming in have the chance to build up on the ideas of ohers who left before. In the evening you will do ameeting for closing the space, talking about how and where to make the information accessible to all.

tool for finding the wording for a common issue

This method was used in context of open space technology, but I am sure it can serve many more purposes:

Once I visited a workshop on how to prepare an open space. It was the organisation team “Sustainable Hospitality Exchange”-Conference which consisted of about 15 people, I think. One of our tasks was to find the main issue for our open space. It was all about “nomadbases”, but we didn’t even have a common definition of that word. We were supposed to find that common reason that brought us here… the common thing we wanted to do.

What is typical about the main issue for an open space? wikipedia sais: “(…) The participants really care about that issue, the issue has so much complexity that no single person or small group can fully understand it, the issue requires highly diverse skills and people for a successful resolution, the issue requires immediate action” (and should have been resolved yesterday already)

Our task was to find that topic and to name it. Each one of us had to write down what was the most important thing about that conference for us, individually. There was many different ideas in the first phase, from “living family life” to “building up hospitality exchange networks” to “sustainable travelling” and so on… I imagined it quite hard to get all these ideas together into a few words. It wasn’t that hard though.

We formed small groups of 3 to 4 people first. Our task was to find compromises in between what he three of us wanted and find words that we could agree on.

Then we had a discussion in the big group, moderated by 2 people who were writing the different possibilies onto a paper in the front. We were bringing together the compromises of the small groups. What we came up with in the end was “planting seeds for nomadic hospitality and cooperation”, an issue that we could all agree with and the motto for our open space.