thought not static

where one think leads to another

it’s all guinea pig, all the time

Posted by thoughtnotstatic on 7 March 2008

guinea pigDuring a recent conversation about event design with my friend, Kathia, one topic that came up was the notion of balancing “pushing the envelope” with the notion of keeping a familiarity and meeting expectations among the participants, at least until a field of trust and engagement is established. While we didn’t couch it in these exact terms, this was the gist.

The more I think about it, the more I think designing to the expectations and familiarity of the participants lacks power and handicaps, rather than helps, a facilitator’s ability to unleash group genius, breakthrough thinking, and shifts of mind…

As Meg Wheatley put it in Leadership & the New Science, “reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new.”

We must be in constant, continuous modes of discovery and learning. Discomforting as it may be, it’s all guinea pig, all the time. Event and experience design must embrace this fact, not only for the participants, but for the design and facilitation team, as well.

Of course, this view is not one that ignores either experience or expectation. History, models, knowledge – all are brought to bear on the event or experience we are designing. But because reality changes shape and meaning, so must we. Experience and expectation are not enough – and, in fact, can preempt our shape-shifting abilities. Surprise, wonder, and curiosity drive exploration and create new experiences, new opportunities to evolve. It is here, in this space, that possibilities once hidden reveal themselves.



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