see-saw co-development

Stage 2: Conversation

The conversation stage of SeeSaw is arranged 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.

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

The structure of a conversation meeting

Every participant has a series of conversations with other participants. Complete equality, and maximum feedback, are achieved by having every participant talk with every other one in the group from both positions — both as an individual talking about how they would work with various initiatives, and as someone with an initiative talking about how different individuals could contribute.

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.

Within a conversation

Conversations start at pre-defined intervals, with each turn being about a quarter of an hour, including time for participants to change tables. 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. There is not 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. There is not 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 agree 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.

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.