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Transcript of Workshop Plan for Indsutry Forum 1

Categories: Advisory Group, Conversation, General, Meetings
Date: 15 September 2007
Contributors: , , , ,

Andy:  We need to make sure everyone is standing on the same deck. So a point of revision is necessary.

They should all have a briefing on where we are at and how we got there, and that will include the Mind map and the website.

Somewhere early in the piece we need to offer them an opportunity to say your missing this and this etc.

An issue is when do we introduce the first provocateur.

Ross: for those of you who were there and those of you who weren’t this is where we got to 18 months ago. Can you now offer information into this process on how the world has changed over 18mths? I don’t think that would take too much time.

Hugh: disagrees and thinks it could take a whole half-day workshop to do that, just collecting all those ideas. Not saying its bad.

Ross: agrees but thinks it wouldn’t take too much to set it up at the workshop and then take say 2 hrs collecting feedback

Hugh: we may need to do this offline through a website.

So may need to be done before the workshop.

Andy: can do a briefing paper beforehand and they will all have access too the website

Hugh: we are probably not going to be able to cover all the issues on the mind map, as we’ve got them at present. So we need to work out a way of reducing them.

There’s already a drama in that because we can say “heres what it looked like 18 mths ago. These are the key issues.. These seem to be well in foreground. And these ones seem to be in the background. And then there’d be 2 hrs of saying hey look how this ones come right up. Look how that ones fallen away.

AM: I think that approach you are talking about needs methodology and a really good facilitator. I’m thinking about what we got before where we had people sitting around with obviously a lot to say, but it doesn’t come out unless our methods are thought out about the way we want it to. (We all discuss the needs for a facilitor who has the tools/strategy to do this)

Hugh mentions Oliver in Business who can do this sort of thing.

Hugh: One other key thing we’ve got to do is to pull out what’s hot and what’s not. And we need to remember we are going out 10years. So the facilitator needs this level of discernment in feeding responses.

Hugh: Should we talk to Christine about it or Ross Dawson?

Ross: says he would be happy to ride shotgun with someone.

Outcome for 1st workshop is getting the issues revised.

Philip: raises the question of how provocateurs fit into the process?

Hugh: responds that you would want to have some of them is the issues workshop as well.

Philip: responds that the original idea was that they would be specialists.

Andy: we have the possibility of the 2hr session where we get everyone on the same deck. We’ve been through the issues. Broadly speaking the issues on the paper are right or they are not. Now before we go any further we want to bounce your minds outside. Heres Joe or whoever.

Hugh: I like that idea.

Ross: And you say “ Joe you’ve got 30 minutes”

Hugh: The “Starbursts”

Andy: “You’ve got 30 minutes, you’re not asked to sit here and argue a case”

Philip: you could have the faux naive person, or the person who just sees the world in a different methodological way”.

Andy: and that’s where I think Joe would be interesting because he looks at businesses entirely outside the businesses.
Where there might be issues in areas the management are not taking them in.

Mark is discussed but as someone who has a fixed vision of the future and is not necessarily a thinker.

Hugh: In truth that s how a lot of futurists are, which is why you need a variety of these people.

Andy: and we have to be careful we don’t lead our participants down a path into thinking they are getting into the business of “predicting”. And that’s Marls thing. But you’d let him in for ½ hr same as Joe and then you’d say, you’re out of here.

Hugh: Once you start smattering starbursts in there you start to head towards a 2-day workshop.

Andy: What I’m suggesting is we do one at the first forum, 1 at the second and maybe we do 1 at the third just to keep pushing peoples ideas around.

Hugh: I like the idea of 2 so that we have almost opposite ones in the same session.

Ross: yeah have 2 then you go to lunch and bring everyone back and you recover.

Philip: yes you really have to wake them up otherwise you do just predict.

Andy: do we need a gap between speakers?

Ross: I don’t think so.

People discuss the size of the participant group.

Andy: we were aiming to keep it at a core of between 12- 15.

Andy: (talking about facilitators) discusses AFTRS 2 unlikely facilitators, a professional couple doing it for a long time. They didn’t know AFTRS business but they were stunning facilitators. They forced the room without appearing to do so to do a whole lot of work. They took a brief absolutely splendidly. I watched them and they were just enjoying the process. One of them is an ex actor and ex director. And the other one is a hard-core but most unlikely facilitator. If you got off track he was in to you like a knife.

Annmarie: that’s what we need.

Andy: so we could provide the meaty stuff, brief them, I think they would understand that, much more than having facilitators who have their own agendas.

Hugh: I think that’s good.

So our aim out of this workshop is to validate the Mind map and highlight the key issues.

Andy: and to drive them if can, within a month into the second workshop.
It’s about having a real burst of energy within a short time frame so people feel they’ve stepped onto the deck, and now they’ve climbed onto another deck.

Philip: Is number 2 literally more scenario planning?

Hugh: to a lot of people out there, their mindset is that scenarios are still stories to be written at the end.
Now when we get to the second one, what were actually offering is that were not going to write the full stories as such. So this is where its going to be very different. Very different from almost every other scenario planning project. So we’ve got to really think about what comes out of the second stage. The 2nd stage would be normally the preparation of some rough matrixes for one sort of rough story, or the points. And you’d either turn that into something you’d present as a story that comes out of that 2nd workshop. So in the 3rd workshop you’ve done a bit of research and the teams written up the story, and you actually do the presentation. And that’s how most people would look at how you do scenario planning in the corporate business world. Where we’re different here is, we’re not actually saying we’re going to get to the point where the stories are actually written.

Andy: I think we are but were saying there would also be ……

Hugh: No the point is we’re saying is up to you guys to go outside this workshop and write the stories. That was the structure we came up with in the last iteration of it. And we may even encourage them to go back and write the stories; we may even get people in the media school here to do it.
Now this is quite different.

Ross: remember we said we’d be proposing the scenarios rather than the stories.

Andy: I agree with that.

Hugh: but the people in the industry may be used to expecting stories. Maybe an adequate outcome is we give them the bullet points and tell them to go away and do whatever they like with them.

Ross: At one stage we were talking about a moment where we go to people one to one and say we’ve got these scenarios give us your story in 30 words.

Andy: Absolutely, but I think we should do that on day one. I think we should actually be sourcing that all the way through.

Ross: Yeah get them ready for that. Which helps establish that idea that this is atypical scenario planning. Two things we’re doing something different from traditional scenario planning. And we’re definitely not doing targeted prediction. We’re doing the development of narrative ability.

Hugh: and what your talking about goes back to an idea we put on the table some time ago where we actually do really want to get the participants stories early and then we can actually put them together. So by having a little statement at the start we have s troy from them that we put into the process.

Andy: I’m not sure it’s a statement from the start. I think what it is, is from the very start and I think Ross is the perfect person to do it, round the table they’re being hit, without warning, with a question on it, “Tell us a story about that… tell us a story about that particular thing, what IP means for channel 7”

AM: when you say from the start do you mean workshop 1.

Andy: yup

Ross: It wouldn’t be the main thing but it would be a taste.

Hugh: It would be a capture, and that would be in addition to the issues that are already on the table, and if they actually did that when they went in to do the issues they are probably more primed to work on issues.

AM: so that comes somewhere in the event.

Andy: I think it just should be all the way through it. So that as they get towards the scenarios they feel more comfortable with the idea they don’t have to be massive essays. The stories and the way they are told don’t have to be large. We get them into the area of thinking about stories and out of the area about thinking about structures.

that’s something the facilitators will need to know about and how to do it.

Andy: that’s right.

Hugh: we have to be very careful then because a lot of facilitators versed in scenario planning will traditionally 1) try to go to either a matrix approach or 2) go for fairly large written stories and productions. Whereas I think a key point on delivery of our one is really a skeleton, scenarios being the skeleton, being a little bit of short statements, a little bit of commentary, and a set of broad points which represent updated themes. And then we say “look heres the scenario logic so to speak which is what were promising, you go write the stories”.

And then we may have a third workshop, or we may actually get a whole lot of people to come in and (…….lost it due to outside noise)

Philip: and we record all these verbatim, so we’ve then got a catalogue of stories. Are there any constraints on this? I mean I’m thinking of the story, not the scenario? Do we say to people “ tell this in the past tense, from 10 years out”?

If you don’t want people to predict then you are going to have a hard time stopping them from doing that, unless you just say “ stories are usually in the past tense. Its 2016, tell us the story of ah.. web publishing or something”. If they back announce it so to speak .

General hubbub.

Andy: That’s great idea. So you’re saying “this is how it was in 2007, how did you get to where you are? What is the story?”

Hugh: I think you’ll find this is in the ACA one. But it’s not explicit.

AM: What is it?

Philip: Well if you’re going to tell a story, the tense of it is what matters. You don’t want people to predict. You don’t want them to say “oh but if…if the govt reduces the ABC’s budget and support for ABC online is given to someone else” then that’s a total fiction. If you say, “ you’re the head of ABC Online 2016, tell us your story”, and the story might be , “I’ve just been sacked because there’s no work for me to do, because etc.

Ross: I really think the Paul Roberts challenge is on. When he said what I don’t see in there is back casting.

Hugh: and that’s mostly central to most projects. It’s dealt with differently.

AM: can I ask about the dynamics of the first workshop? That sounds really interesting to do but we are also asking them to do something else. We want them to come out with a revision of the issues. So how do those two things sit together?

Ross: I think that the narratising stuff is just a taste in the first session. The main task is review and revision.

AM: the narratising is like playing, they’re playing.

Andy: It does play to what’s on the paper though because you might well get 3 stories all of which say, using Philips example, all of which say “look that looked like a big problem in 2006 but it turned out not to be a bog problem because two bits of legislation got passed which did this, this, this which are logical steps.

Hugh: It’s really to start to back cast what you still haven’t forward cast.


Philip: well my sequence about this would be more or less later than in the first one.  See the first one as consolidating and opening up the menu. And the second one is providing resources. And the third one is making people think narratively, in my view possibly retrospectively, with those resources. So you end up with a thousand flowers blooming.

Andy: you’ve got to have fun all the way through.

Hugh – you’ve got to have fun and fear. And the fear is, and this is important, this is where the scenario-planning project will pass or fail. Most scenario planning workshops have a process where you have to develop a picture or image way outside the predictive zone, that is why whatever we talk about issues, the facilitator has to take them on a journey away from what they know.

Andy: yep

Hugh: and there’s different ways of doing that. Some facilitators will just get in there and blow away all their conventional views of the world and make em completely fearful and uncomfortable and then meld them back together to look at a problem. Um the food ones from what I find can come up with at least a starting story or skeleton, “ a day in the life of an executive in 2017, in this new industry”.

Now that story is not going to be the full story but it could be a story that at least gives a frame of reference where they can start exploring that world, and then they can bring back all the issue and back cast. Back cast is really important because you’re out there building tis world in the world that’s not really there and then you have to bring feasibility back in. You’ve got to map a path back to the world you’ve created out there with all the issues you’ve got here. Now the backside of it and what the predictors tend to do is they look at all the issues and extrapolate them out as far as they can, which is usually only about 2 or 3 years. Very few people get beyond the current politics.

So it’s almost the art of looking at our mind map and writing a set of stories, or principles or bullet points or news lines or whatever or a movie or something that stimulates the group and gets them into that zone “ lets think about what happens in there”.

That will be the success of the project-if we get that rights and we get the group going then they start to think about ideas out in that world and then come up with tag lines, principles and stories.

That could be right at the start of the issues workshop before we go anywhere, we take em out, then we go back to it…..or….. we could get them just warmed up on the issues and have that early on in the scenario workshop, the second one, or even further than that.

Ross: There’s a lot going on in the issues workshop but you could actually do this quite quickly if you do it as an intensive long range/duration thing, or you could do it quite quickly as part of “this is where we got to 18mths ago, we had all of these main issues, these ones on the foreground, these ones in the background… if you looked at it that way, you could dream up a story such as this one. That takes 3 minutes to tell… and then you kind of leave it alone. You just say this is the provocation that we got to 18mths ago.. hang that story up.. what we’re going to do is look at this field of issues again and see how they’ve changed in 18mths…. Just by telling that one example story .. we’ve just hooked them into that imaginative world.. we haven’t marched through it for very long.

Hugh: well that’s the job of the whole project, to march them through that world, to build that world.

AM: theres this and the provocateurs and the “play sessions”

Ross: I don’t know that they’re play sessions…. They’re “moments”. There just moments of taste. They’re saying, “This is what’s going to come up in the later sessions”. If tis managed well.

Hugh: what are we actually talking about here?

Andy: These are these tiny injections of .. we’re having this conversation here and Ross suddenly drops on you the question of “the Darknet” in other words the black side of the Internet, um the darknet overtaking the web .. and the darknet so whats happened?

You’ve got literally a minute to tell a little story.

Hugh: Yep that’s good.

Ross: then we have 3 minutes or so of puzzling over that then, we move on and we’re off it.
But the provocateurs one is a very contained session. So it feels to me like we’ve got 2hrs, 1hr then break for lunch.

Andy: 1hr of a real buzz. Then I would of thought on this structure in the afternoon is our first pass at chopping that (the map) up, making sure that were still all on track but chopping them down into something bite size…… So that we we’re ready for Philip’s structure for the second one.

Phillip: I’m a bit of an old academic here (hubbub ensues)

Hugh: talks about us now having a running sheet for the workshops.

Phillip: but we will have at some point later on a session where … it might be the long session…where the main game is storytelling.

Hugh: Yes and I think what were getting to here is whether that’s the 3rd.workshop or whether we actually end up having a cluster of outputs that could be workshops or sessions or groups of people producing those. I think one of the outputs we do have as part of the project eventually is to present, literally these outcomes at a relevant industry conference… so I’m not sure whether that ends up being the 3rd workshop here, or it ends up being a whole set of events and activities and different outputs.

Philip: At one point down the track you actually use the narratives to provoke the group, the industry and other partners and they say “my god I wouldn’t have thought that was a story that could be told… that s what you call…….

Hugh: It’s essentially the production of the narratives. What were actually saying here is STEP 2 is actually not quite what it is. I would have thought step 2 is getting to the scenario logics which is where we actually said we were going to… and then the narratives come out of that. And that essentially to me is a step 3 where a group may actually present a set of formal stories out of what they’ve done, which could be out of a participant group. We could actually get another industry group to do it. We could throw it over to students in the media school and they could produce or write something. We could actually take it to our business people here our MBA people and get them to write something. Or we could get a whole lot of different people. In the end we get all sorts of different stories and outputs. To me that is actually Step 4.

Annmarie: we are just focusing on the participants here (eying the workshop diagram)

Andy: the participants must have the first go before we start taking it outside. These 14 people are the people who are going to take it back right across the industry.

Hugh: No what I’m saying is ultimately, say we do the issues workshop, then we do the scenario building workshop… so what were really debating here is the output that comes out. As I see it at the moment what they will probably take out of it is a little bit of commentary and then a wholes set of statements or themes that actually they could write stories from. Now we may decide to get the participants to still write a story as a group and that’s OK.

Phillip: you don’t want them writing literally, you ant them telling stories. It’s got to be oral. Other wise its not going to work in the group way.

Ross: Now Phillip 5 minutes ago you said that it looked like the 3 stages to me.

Phillip: Well for me, the 1st is what we’ve been discussing which is provocateurs. We come in and we say where were at and we get them to see the resources that have been floating around for them to work with. I had a kind of a middle stage, which I call scenarios, and resources where we probably put things together, rather than others. And the 3rd stage is just getting people to tell us.. tell us.. tell us, where we provoke them and then we get them to look at all the stuff they’ve done.. then we go back to people and say that’s was what you told us.. and we do get stories they appear in the past tense… and people tell them literally, orally. If they sit there and try and write them that will close them off, and that’s not what you want.

Hugh: What you’ve spelled out is actually the original project plan, which was; you actually had that sort of star workshop. Then you have the team actually writing and applying research to it before the second workshop. And even after the second one where you might have rough narratives or a matrix. Quite often it’s actually that little team of us that end up writing the story, or helping people in small groups write the story, which is then presented. So that actually makes the thing in effect a 5-step process.

Andy: (to Phillip) can I just be clear, what’s your middle?

Phillip: My middle one is us. But I didn’t think of scenarios as narratives. I think conceptually- I’m thinking of theatre sports for example, what people perform, the narrative, they utter isn’t our business. But uhm… The resources they draw and choose from to make those stories up is something we have to be able to give them very clearly. But we need I think as a group to go and do that.

Andy: Am I right is saying Philip that your saying the 2nd forum doesn’t include…..(drifts off mike)

Phillip: the 2nd stage of the thing isn’t a public forum. It’s us working on what came out of the first one, and producing some tasters. Then what we say is we want a lot of these things, with a very open but nevertheless, free process to the storytellers. But I mean the third one (2nd workshop) might not be everyone in the same room. It might be small groups of people going off and um going for it.

Andy: So Item 2 is us. Item 3 you’re saying is not necessarily plenary

Phillip: No

Andy: Its groups?

Phillip: Its production

Andy: telling stories to our direction so to speak. Is there a 4?

Phillip: Yeah 4 is perhaps then going back and throwing stories at people from your first group maybe – and saying. I mean you might and you might not say to them …well look heres all the provocations and stories that people come up with … 100 of them… you’ve got to read them and come back…we go through these… and people might want to do some more or so……so the thing does kind of open up.

Andy: If that’s the analysis what’s the capture?

Phillip: well I thought we were saying…. there is no end to the project… the project doesn’t finish with us saying…”and therefore in 2017…….we’ll all be out of a job” rather it ends up with us saying….”we’ve got a facility, maybe a web facility in fact…..where people can continue to explore possibilities through these processes.

Andy: I think we’ve got to give them more than that.

Phillip: I’m not saying we shouldn’t give them more than that. But it’s a way of signalling that the project isn’t finished, so to speak.

Andy: oh I accept that. But what they’re expecting one way or another, is a set of stories, or what lead to the stories which are the scenarios, what they’re excepting is a set of those, so that as businesses, they know that .. almost everything that is going to happen … is captured one way or another. (the critical uncertainties). So that they actually know they can use those stories .. And they can say “if that happens, how might it impact on my business”

Phillip: Yeah I think that’s consistent.

Andy: But you’re saying hundreds of stories.

Phillip: well not hundreds.

No, no but what we do… lets say we get 100 …. We say “thanks very much we’re going away to a quiet space for a while”, and we do pattern analysis on those stories.

Annmarie: and later a report to the industries.

Hugh: that’s why.. sorry to say it for the 5th time but….that’s why we are looking at a 5 step process, where we’ve got 3 workshops for the forum bits and there’s 2 bits for us. One is the issues and then us going and analysing and working on that and then we have the scenario production, which I think we said we’d get as far as the logics but not necessarily the narratives or the stories. But at that stage we have to go off and do some more analysis. If you look at the original project plan this is actually what we proposed. So we have the 4th step where we look at what came out of the production of the losgics and then we have a 5th step, which is actually doing the stories… which can be with the group and/or with other people.

So I think where Phil’s really added to this is to remind us that the project is not just the 3 forums or workshops, it’s the work we have to do between them. That what we’re really talking about, what are we doing in between them? And we’re saying we make them distinct steps. As against saying this is just a diagram about when we meet them.

Usually also when your analysing the back casting you’ve got to look for evidence that there are really early signs of this out there.

We need to take a little bit of time to think about the outcomes.

Andy: you’re going too far. Just step back 2 seconds. What is a potentially viable calendar for this?

We then go into the calendar plotting stage and conclude meeting.