Last month ModelMinds was intensely working together with the Erasmus MC hospital (Rotterdam, NL). Let us share some insights, on how to design a short session with multiple disciplines, allowing for maximal output.
The idea was to organise a symposium with department heads, unit advisors, doctors, and specialists. Why? Because the hospital wants to develop the coolest Day-Care Center in the world. And where a lot of people work, a lot of different needs and views need to be managed. But how to know these upfront?
Having limited brainstorming time, over 80 participants, and the wish for a lot of output, the big question: how?
1. Clarify Goals of the Event and Their Priority
This is crucial for all involved – for both the organizers and the interactive session designers. After all, too often assumptions about the scope of the task and the goals mess up the output. Know that, from our experience,
Event goals are a mix of two factors. One involves something experiential with the people, e.g. to inspire them, do something creative, have a dialogue. It is about the way, the form. The other involves the output, the knowledge-creation with a purpose. It is about the what, the content.
And equally important is integrating the identified goals into a meticulous session design. And for that you need to know the priority of all the different reasons that might be there (from creating more business to doing something for a common dream). For the session design at the symposium, the challenge was, on the one hand, to inspire the participants to work from the patient perspective, and, to create design ideas for the center.
2. Identify the Guiding Question and the Output
Ensuring that your dialogues do actually work towards your goal, it is crucial to have a guiding question. This namely helps organizing what knowledge is needed. The question we worked on was: ‘What do we need for a great experience in the hospital (for all stakeholders)?” Yet, having nailed down a question is only the first step. Organizing for output another. For the symposium we nailed down information from a 26-page full-text document: what we needed was content from 7 different stakeholders, who move through 8 different spaces, with specific information on four different levels. Wow, that makes over 200 possible combinations!
3. Design an Engaging Hands-On Process
A session is ideally interactive, so that it taps into all creative powers of and individual. It ideally is hands-on, not just talking, but actually engaging with each other and the content. We designed a process to get people into the minds of the stakeholder group they represented, and to identify what was needed from that perspective. With the right tools, we got the output we wanted, within a solid one-hour brainstorm. It was great to see how the energy of the groups was high, due to their formation: every group having a decision-maker, expert, and planner.
4. Create Instruction Hand-Outs for the Facilitators
Being the content-partner in the symposium, we made sure that our facilitating partners adhere to the following:
If the person facilitating has no stake in the content of the dialogue, it means that one has a greater chance at remaining neutral as the conversation proceeds – a critical ingredient for facilitating.
With the symposium, we had different non-content-related people facilitating. With a hand-out on what input was expected, guided by the guiding question, and some inspiration on how to facilitate, they did a wonderful job!
5. Graphically Harvest the Collective Wisdom
If there is one thing important for the participants, it is to acknowledge their contribution. One way is to visually capture this. With ModelMinds we come into a lot of different places, hear a lot, and structure the information for the group. And that makes us experts in navigating complex content and processes for our clients. With so many different variables at the Erasmus MC, it was quite a challenge to simultaneously think about the essence, make it visual, and harvest it in a way that people understand. Let me share the happy me and the result:
As people can relate to visuals, live harvesting creates immediate insight into the collective wisdom of the group. And that is the great thing I liked about being at the Erasmus MC: people felt heard, and felt special (just for me being there)! To keep the memory alive, I heard the visual was even put in a frame. And it was put in the report. Cool, huh? Leonoor from the Erasmus MC hospital shared a nice quote with me about working together:
“Oscar is vanaf het begin bij de organisatie van het symposium betrokken geweest en kwam met creatieve ideeën om de brainstorms te stroomlijnen. Tijdens het symposium wist hij de kern van de opmerkingen op een heldere manier te verwerken in een tekening. De deelnemers waren erg enthousiast over de tekening.” (ir. Leonoor Brouwer, Gebruikerscoördinator nieuwbouw Erasmus MC, thema Spoed & Intensief)