Our interest at AssociationSuccess.org in harnessing collective knowledge has two levels: we are excited both by the insights generated through collaboration, and by the innovative potential of experimenting with ways of harnessing them. Our mission, as we see it, is both to source cutting-edge ideas, and to spark them.
SURGE Spring, our recent virtual conference, was fuelled in part by an engaged and enthusiastic attendee chat, which extended the reach of the session discussion and produced a whole new set of ideas. During one session in particular, focused on Professional Development, the volume and quality of the insights coursing through the chat was both inspiring and intriguing. We wanted to delve deeper into some of these conversations, and to see the directions they might take with an opportunity to expand.
Thinking about how to replicate the collaborative character of the chat environment, while also allowing people to think through and expand upon their individual contributions, we concocted an experiment. We invited a handful of the most active attendees to join the speakers on a Google Doc for an hour long co-writing project, with the aim of elaborating upon some of the themes that emerged during the SURGE session, and using this material for the eBook we were creating from the session content.
The co-writing project entailed a series of questions laid out in the Google Doc, with space below in which each person could offer their own answer, and could comment upon each other’s responses as they came in. The goal was to compile a set of meaningful insights into some of the more pertinent issues surrounding Professional Development as a theme.
Upon entering the Google Doc, they were greeted with an opening page that introduced the concept and explained the process:
They were then given a summary of how the Doc was laid out, and what questions they could expect to see:
Through a combination of individual responses, direct comment threads, and a general discursive tone, this exercise created some really fantastic content, as well as pointing to new resources and further topics to be explored.
We knew this process was unlikely to be perfect, and in fact relished its experimental nature as a testing-ground. The participants were able to support us not only through their responses, but by offering their feedback about the process itself. We are sure that innovation lives in both these spaces: it’s as much about how we share knowledge as it is about the knowledge itself. We are looking forward to continuing to co-create, iterate and explore alongside the community – so expect many more projects of this nature!