Open CP Square meeting on Communities and Networks, Amsterdam

Last Sunday Nancy, John and I have organized a CP Square open space meeting which for me turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect to friends and colleagues in a very creative environment. Some of us have been blogging about their perception of the one-day event as well, see the blogs of Ton and Lilia (links to be provided) so make sure you do not miss their notes.

Though there have been many discussions, conversations and most of all observations there are two things that I want to include in my blog as I feel that some additional thinking is needed from my side.

cp2-ams1

Introductions / personality / identity.

It is important to introduce when you organize a meeting in which a portion of the group is not familiar with the rest. Since we knew who was coming more or less, I suggested during breakfast on Sunday to John that we’d to introductions. “However”, I said, “usually when we ask people to introduce themselves they merely talk about ‘what they do’ and not so much about ‘who they are'” So I suggested that we’d have two rounds of introductions, one about personal introductions (e.g. where you come from, your interests, history, or anything you wish you share about yourself). The importance of this element in reinforcing relationships in emerging networks is something that we have been paying a lot of attention to (as well) in “The Dutch Connection” – our monthly gathering in the ABC Treehouse. So we asked to have dual intros – a personal and a project/work related one. Yet, it seems to hard for many to separate these two elements and quickly everyone was talking about their job rather than personal identity. We have to realize that it is not very easy to separate this, but I feel that these two have very distinct purposes in group-forming networks and I will have to start another thread on this. My feeling is that one may go quickly to the issue of different levels of trust.

cp2-ams2Language / bridging

To facilitate the rest of the day after the introductions, I asked everyone to give away a couple of keywords that reflected interests, learning objectives, experiences etc. We quickly collected 30-40 post-it notes which as a whole represented our group’s interest. With this, we could form breakout groups and discuss these matters in a very creative manner. I was lucky to be in the “Language / Innovation / Bridging” group. The visualization of our outcome is Alisdair’s “bridge” picture.

cp2-ams3

Funny enough, the visual outcome of our conversation does not mean to people outside the group the same as the people that have created the outcome. The latter was more focussed on the issues of language and how to use qualities of language to bridge communities and drive conversation (-> meta-language as well in diversified communities). Yet, afterwards most people perceived the bridge as a reflection of different degrees of complexity where crossing the bridge from A to B was very high-level and abstract versus those who ‘jumped in the water to discover another world out there’. Let’s wait until Beverly comes with her notes to make sure that we capture all the essential details of our thoughts. The meta-language to cross community boundaries (?) is definitely something I wish to elaborate and / on in CP Square or through the blogging community.

It was a very good day, good to meet so many nice people (something worth mentioning again) and feel reenergized with thoughts! We are going to continue talking in the CP Square space for 4 weeks more for subjects that we wish to give more attention to, then I think about calling people to see how they have applied their learnings of last Sunday.

PS: Lilia, I would suggest that we take the networks versus communities discussion there, because there were some interesting follow up’s in the Virtual Communities conference on Monday as well.

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