No such thing as a free lunch on Planet Zarg. How not to do an event

Imma keep this “no names” and no “tend to identify” details.  I will do that by invoking planet Zarg and the Zargians.


Once upon a time on planet Zarg (in the constellation of Kasterborous, at galactic coordinates 10-0-11-00:02 from Galactic Zero Centre, since you ask) a subset of Zargians were invited to attend an event at which they would mingle and talk about their common experience.  A free lunch was an inducement (there is no warning comparable to “There is no such thing as a free lunch” on Zarg).

As the Zargians entered the room they were asked to clarify if that is why they were coming.  They were not encouraged to talk to other Zargians, so they basically sat in clusters of one, (or two if they’d come with another Zargian).

Nobody spoke to each other. That’s just how they roll on Zarg, and the facilitators didn’t factor this into their plans, or perhaps felt that mingling should not start before Zargians were formally expected to mingle.

The actual meeting started late, (Zargians have a fluid sense of time) even though it was only scheduled to last 4 demis  (roughly equivalent to two earthling hours).

The practice on Zarg (as so often as on earth) is to have people listen to about half a demi of explanation of who the facilitators are, why they have called the meeting, and who the funders are.  Zargians believe that this will put everyone in a good mood for contributing and connecting. even though this dogma is not supported by shalkragblat.  (or ‘evidence’ as it is called on Earth).

Then the meeting went downhill, quickly (well, painfully slowly – a demi can be a looooong time.

Each Zargian was invited to say a bit about themselves, which parts of Zarg they had been conducting certain activities at, what they did and didn’t enjoy about doing their activity on this particular patch of Zarg at the present time.

Some Zargians kept it short and sweet. Others not so much.  And the medium (one Zargian talks, 15 or 20 listen) became the message. And the message was… Crikey, this is the most ineffective strategy you could manage, isn’t it?

Your Zargian correspondent exfiltrated the planet with three demis and a free lunch still to come.


In a parallel universe, this is what would have happened

As people came in, they were asked to make a name badge and to chat to another Zargian about why they’d come, what they spent their demis doing.

At exactly the time the meeting was scheduled to start, pairs of Zargians were encouraged to form

  1. Find out the name, activity and Some Funny Thing about the other Zargian
  2. Then pair up with another pair (four Zargians) and each Zargian introduce a Zargian the other Zargians
  3. The four Zargians then move around a series of posters and flipcharts.
  • One was a world map of Zarg, where Zargians were invited to put dots for where they had done their activity.
  • Another was chart where people could list what they were doing now
  • Another was “best thing about what I am doing now”
  • Another was “worst thing about what I am doing now”
  • Another was “advice I would give a younger Zargian just setting out to do the same thing”

This would only need about two thirds of a demi, to capture FAR more information and create some bonds than happened back in cruddy unparallel universe.  And Zargians would be on their feet, engaging with each other, rather than worrying about what they were going to say and trying to remember what the interesting people had said.
And then, if you wanted to REALLY push the boat out, you could do some novice lines.  But I digress.

2 thoughts on “No such thing as a free lunch on Planet Zarg. How not to do an event”

    1. And hopefully we won’t have to go to Zarg to do it!!

      It’s the *design* of the meeting too that matters. And people have such naive (as in, inadequate) ideas about how and why to design meetings. There is this assumption that if everybody is in a circle rather than sat in rows, then the battle is somehow one and the meeting is somehow ‘open’.

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