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Open RSA Workshop reports

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This is a page for reports, observations and ideas about the February 2009 workshop.

There also a page for related items about RSA developments and leadership
Details of the follow-through meeting on March 6 2009 RSAN meeting March 6 2009

Blog items

Please add any other blog item links to this section:

Reflecting on the RSA - modelling the future ... Leon Cych puts the workshop into the bigger context of people with shared interests meeting through social networking, and offer a rich mix of photos and video. More promised.

David Gauntlett's 9-minute summary video Video mostly about the workshop process, but including explanation of each group's model and their metaphors for the RSA past, present and future.

A Newcomers Perspective (link broken) Mike Amos-Simpson says he found the day a mixed bag of frustration, confusion, interest and optimism

The Future of RSA Networks Tessy Britton confirms “It was such an interesting afternoon, with lots of really lovely people.

|For he's a jolly good Fellow? Jemima Gibbons reflects on the workshop, the vision of a distributed network, and the challenge that presents for the culture and leadership of RSA.

Your reports

From Laura Billings (RSA Fellowship Research):
My notes from the day - a few of themes that stood out for me
problem - current confusion around the diversity of ideas and tools available for discussion
possible solutions- combining/aggregating outputs, filter mechanisms, tagging / taxonomy, ability to use tools you are comfortable with

problem - the need for more skilled coordinators to make links and keep momentum going
possible solutions - specific role for certain Fellows, possible recompense for taking on such a role, more hired staff (hard in economic climate)

problem - the need for face to face conversations and meeting spaces
possible solutions - 'last Friday club' type meetings, regular fixed venue and places across UK, issues with lack of meeting space available in RSA House

problem - the need to reach whole audience, online, offline and inbetweeners
possible solutions - buddy system, Fellows willing to pass information on or teach online skills, personlised data publications to bridge gap, possible extra cost for this service, critical cut off point where company policy is online comms?

From Stefan Lubomirski de Vaux (lubo) FRSA: I found it a very useful and enjoyable event, that confirmed yet again that the RSA is the institution for me. What I saw and heard from the many discussions and interactions that there is some confusion as to whether this is an organisation run by its members or led by its management?. I think it needs to find some sort of happy balance between the two. Present efforts including yesterday's workshop, seem to be focused on finding more and more ways of letting Fellows and outsiders interact, across a dizzying array of platforms, whilst not yet working out how to absorb this mountain of chat into meaningful and actionable activities.

The problem of how to bring offline fellows into the debate and activities was discussed and the outlines of a “buddy system emerged which looks like bridging the gap, if it can be better defined and ways found to link generous buddies to their offline neighbours!

The workshop itself was well run, with all of us creating models from Lego and plasticine that surprised me in their effectiveness in exposing issues in a way that catalysed debate. A consensus emerged that there should be a room or rooms allocated for Fellows and their guests to meet that was light and spacious and not the Gerrard Bar, or the restaurant, where discussions could take place on thses topics and networking could go on in the real world.

There needs to be a system that when the RSA responds to ideas from the fellows that result in action groups and activities that the continue to get support and resources until they stand on their own two legs.

finally that this mountain of discussion and ideas that come from SIGS, Events, Twitter, Facebook etc. be regularly reviewed by the leadership, suggested priorities drawn up, along with draft levels of resources to be assigned, then maybe voted on by Fellows at which items get backing, which get put on hold and which get rejected.

[Some material not related to the 19th Feb workshop, which appeared here, has now been achived to this page's discussion page.]

What next

Andrew Darke

Certainly an interesting afternoon – a lot of good stuff was said – did we catch it all?
The 3D modelling was a good way to get people discussing and explaining BUT I kept feeling that the conversations that took place AS MODELS WERE MADE were really interesting, as well as the final models and their explanations. So - record the conversations as well.
The following are important things I felt there was a consensus about:
Those who don’t get on well with computers / internet MUST be facilitated equally well. Face to face is probably more important than online.
Every RSA event should have RSA Networks people with badge / label so that those not yet involved know who they can ask. The after lecture / event period should be lengthened as much as possible to allow as much socialising as possible.

All lecturers should have it stated in their contracts that they should make themselves available afterwards for informal discussion.

More meeting space should be available for Fellows at all times in the House. Please would staff direct me to where I can find out the present pattern of usage of the rooms and what they each contributed financially over the last year.

How should we evaluate the quality of ideas and proposals which emerge and then make decisions as to which should be taken forward / receive funding. A whole process is required here.

We should ensure a certain amount of ‘enlightened dictatorship’ decision making as well as consensus / democratic decision making, so that the power of individual vision is not lost.

Are there too many online platforms already – so discussion is dissipated?

Refining the search aspect of the Fellow database is urgent.

That’s it for now and thanks to Lizzie Jackson, David Gauntlett and the Lauras.

ps. Recycling arrangements needed for plasticine and lego next time![David Gauntlett notes: The Lego will all be re-used; but I don't know what to do with lots of messed-together plasticine … any suggestions welcomed!]

A few thoughts from Laura Bunt:

First and foremost what struck me was a strong feeling of coalescence; as each group shared their thinking it was fascinating how much similar themes were emerging and similar questions were being asked. A couple of consensus points in particular…

  • A buddy system to welcome new Fellows, provide support to existing Fellows in online participation, event support, project design, networking etc and build new relationships. This has been taken forward as part of the new Fellows' experience as well as making up part of the team's network development strategy across the Fellowship - Vivs Long Ferguson is leading on this and working with Tessy Britton and other Fellows to design a Fellows' Connection Toolkit to facilitate networks.
  • Increased opportunities for Fellows to meet in JAS and across the UK. An explicit part of the team's remit is working with the House team to build on opportunities for Fellows in the House and to develop the offer. One particular result is a monthly get together hosted and facilitated by the RSA where Fellows can meet, share ideas and broaden their network. More info and registration here -
  • Increased capacity for facilitation and (particularly) online community support to enable a greater sense of connectivity within the Fellowship. As well as designating an online facilitator, the team is looking at how we can support a network of RSA 'buddies' and friends to build and develop the network.
  • That we need to consolidate and communicate the various platforms, opportunities for Fellowship engagement and make the 'offer' clear whilst ensuring we remain open and invite participation from a range of people with a range of preferred approaches. If I may speak plainly, something Dan Dimmock said really stuck out for me on Thursday - that there is the potential to overwhelm people with too many platforms and sub brands… There's some work for us to do around consolidating and refining the different platforms that the RSA offers and communicating that effectively. The various blogs, wiki spaces, comment boards, platforms are all there which is great and the RSA needs to celebrate and consolidate that.
  • The search aspect of the Fellowship database needs to be visible and open to all Fellows so everyone can find each other. So nearly there and oh so very urgent…
  • That there needs to be a transparent, open system by which ideas are put forward and developed by Fellows and staff and RSA resources are allocated where necessary/appropriate. The governance and decision making processes of this need to be communicated to everyone. Michael Devlin, Katherine and I have been working on a project development process that intends to meet all of these criteria as I agree it's absolutely essential. As I said at the workshop, I think the area of criteria and definition has been too hazy up until this point and the Fellowship charter and invitation process ought to make that clearer.

I found it fascinating at the event and drawing from the reports how true it is that the invitation needs to be clear. Even for this workshop, perhaps people were a little confused by the invitation and weren't sure what to expect from the workshop. This may have led to some of the frustrations people have expressed. Hopefully it held some pleasant surprises too. Sharing expectations and hopes before the event built up a nice buzz and gave people the chance to co-design the agenda but perhaps where expectations weren't met it may have been a question of communicating. With such a diverse range of expectations, experiences and perspectives it can be difficult to be all things to all people.

I think this is a lesson I took from the workshop as a whole. The RSA's strength is in its diversity and we as the staff team need to remain open and articulate in responding to a range of different expectations. This is a tough challenge but we have the enthusiasm and commitment to take it forward. What unites the RSA Fellowship is a shared ethos and shared ambition for the world rather than a subscription to a set of services.

However, the RSA wants to support its Fellowship and so we need to provide the environment in which these ambitions can be realised. The RSA is its Fellowship; access and influence within that Fellowship is why people join the RSA. By opening up, making the Fellowship accessible and stimulating and supporting new collaborations we can become the optimistic network that we left the room as on Thursday.

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workshop_reports.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/29 14:06 by admin