What might have been, but wasn’t

How it could have been

  • (Starting on time instead of fifteen minutes late)
  • Having someone clearly identified as welcome/way of making sure people who don’t know anyone know where to come to etc.
  • Having a note taker


Introductions Pairwise.

“Sit with someone you don’t know. You are going to find out their name and what, for them “success” (either individually or for the group) would mean in 6 months’ time?”

Then do that, with everyone introducing someone else.  Get the definitions of success written up on flipcharts, divided into personal, group, movement, broader public, other actors.

“Thanks everyone for coming.  This meeting has four aims. Firstly, everyone who is here gets to meet and talk to everyone else.

Secondly, we start to think about what success would look like in six/12 months across five categories – individual, the group, the wider “movement”, the general public and in relation to other actors (local government, regional government, national government).

Thirdly, we will come up with lists of resources – and resource gaps – that we need to achieve those

Finally, it will try to look at specific next steps if there are ‘urgent’, short term things that need to be discussed/decided.

“We’re going to do a lot of small group work, in twos or threes for two reasons. First, because that helps you meet other people. Second because if we stay as one big group, about a quarter or a third of the people will dominate.

“First, briefly, to get ourselves in the “mood”,  we will work in small groups – ideally threes, to  look at what has gone well so far, and what hasn’t gone well/what has been problematic.  We will feed back on that.”

[Feedback on positives and negatives, but keep this relatively short]

“Now on your own for a couple of minutes, reflect on what it would take to for you to be MORE enthused, MORE engaged than you are now, in activity x and this group six months from now.  Would it be new skills, new knowledge, new relationships? Something more? Something else?  We’ll report back on those, if you want, but you are also allowed to keep your own success criteria to yourself – just say ‘pass’.”

[report back, brief discussion, but move on before getting bogged down]

“Next, in different small groups (introduce yourselves to anyone you don’t know), we’re getting into the key questions. There’s flipcharts, please write down short and clear sentences

  • Six months from now, what does “success” look like for this group? 
  • Six months from now, how has it helped a wider movement of groups and individuals to communicate and co-ordinate with each other? Bring in your experiences so far – how can we amplify the good, minimise the bad?
  • Six months from now, how has it engaged with broader publics, both face-to-face but also via the internet and other activities?  Bring in your experiences so far – how can we amplify the good, minimise the bad?

We don’t have time today to talk in any detail about relations to the local government, regional government, national and international government, but there’s a flipchart over here for you to put your thoughts on.  We are going to need another meeting for that, though, since not everyone here knows enough to have a meaningful discussion.”


[Give groups fifteen to twenty minutes to do this]

“Now we’re going to hear back from each group.  When your group reports back, please only say things that the other groups haven’t.   We will then have an unprioritized list of success metrics for the next six months, and some sense of what we all agree on.”


“Okay, now we’ll have a ten minute break.  If there are things that you think we HAVE to discuss today, please put them up – in a succinct sentence – on this flipchart.  We’ll discuss them straight after the break in case anyone has to go.”


After break

Firstly, discussion of “urgent” decisions (upcoming events, need for different promo materials)

NB Urgent meaning major opportunities will be missed/demoralisation if something cocks up.  Urgent does not mean “the thing I am currently most interested in talking about.”

[this will probably take longer than it should, and you need to either get decisions quickly or defer them/delegate them]

Secondly, “Right, so, now we’ve identified what success would look like at the “within the group”, broader movement and “facing the public” levels, let’s split into three groups, based on that – whichever you’re most interested in – , to look at what resources are needed to achieve each of those.”

“You have ten minutes to come up with the list of resources required.  We will then spend five minutes on each level collectively, throwing out names of individuals and groups with those skills/knowledge/relationships/resources.”

[ten minutes followed by report backs.


“So, to recap, we’ve covered a lot of ground.  You’ve met everyone else in the room, thought about what ‘success’ would look like six months from now at the individual, group, movement, broader public levels.  We have NOT talked about the position that the group might take towards other actors such as the local government.

“We will type up all these minutes and put an account – without any individuals name attached to any points [e.g. Chatham House rule], and posted on the website.  When we hold these sorts of meetings in future, we will make sure to make it easier for those who can’t physically come to have some input too.”



#Lessonsforme. Don’t agree to facilitate after a meeting has started.  You don’t have the status or cool to cope, so  keep your fucking ego in a box and don’t imagine you are able to salvage a fucked situation. You DESERVE to be punished if you try.


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