see-saw co-development

Stage 2: Conversation

The conversation stage of SeeSaw is easiest to envisage as a meeting lasting between half a day and a full day, set up to give people the maximum time to discuss with other participants.

Alternatively, particularly if the people involved would find it difficult to meet at one time and place, the conversation stage can be held as a series of one-to-one meetings, in person or by video conference.

The effectiveness of the conversations depends vitally on having well-prepared briefs, prepared as part of Stage 1. It is a precondition of participation in this stage that participants have had their two briefs accepted by the meeting facilitator.

Whichever way the conversations are carried out, the essence is that every participant has two conversations with every other participant. There is a conversation in which one participant takes the role of the initiative, with the other taking the role of the individual; and another conversation where the roles are reversed. This ensures complete equality and maximum feedback.

The structure of a conversation event

A conversation event is structured as a series of simultaneous conversations between pairs of participants. After each conversation, participants move on until everyone has talked with everyone else in the group, both ways round. In addition, participants have time to prepare for the change of role, either way, between individual and initiative. An organiser or guide will be available to help if wanted.

Here's how it would work for 6 participants. If you click on the graphic, a new window should open — just keep clicking to step through the diagrams.

With an even number of participants, in every other conversation turn, two participants have time to change roles.

With odd numbers, it is similar, but in every turn one participant is changing role. Click on this graphic to see how 7 would work. Again, a new window should open — keep clicking.

A collection of one-to-one conversations

If a single event is impractical, each participant is invited to arrange conversations between themselves and every other participant. These can be face-to-face or by video conference, and either two separate 15 minute conversations, or a half hour split equally.

Conversations take place in the same way as if it were a conversation event, though if it suits both parties, informal discussion can follow on directly from the See-Saw conversations.

Within a conversation

At the beginning of each conversation, the first minutes are taken up by both participants reading the other's brief. The participant in the position of the individual reads the initiative brief of the person at the same table, and the person who holds the initiative idea reads the individual brief of the person at the same table.

After reading each other's briefs, the two participants start the conversation, focusing on finding an agreed role for the individual in the initiative. The individual seeks to agree a role that would best satisfy him or her, while the person representing the initiative seeks to agree a role that would contribute most value to their initiative.

Participants as individuals should remember that their role is as a potential collaborator. As this is a learning exercise, not a recruitment event, individuals should respond as if they had no other commitments, and were able to devote any amount of time to this particular initiative. This is not the time to play the roles either of customer/client of the initiative, or business advisor, except if it looks like the best agreed role is likely to be that of advisor.

Participants holding initiative ideas should remember that their role is to find out the best fitting role for the individual in the initiative, focusing on relevant experience and abilities, and not being distracted by other details of the individual's biography. This is not the time for an initiative holder to act as a careers advisor or a counsellor to the individual.

The range of possible roles is very wide, and some role should be able to be found for any individual in any initiative. At very least, the role could be something like giving advice about the initiative on a particular topic, or introducing contacts. At most, it might be possible to envisage a full-time role for the individual in the initiative. Whatever the role is, both participants write it down as a short description of what they have agreed. Each turn finishes with the short time for reflection back to each other.

The participants take away all the short descriptions of the roles agreed with them, so that they can reflect on and plan how to move on in Stage 3.