Diplomatic Workshopping at Barcampnfp

Barcampnfp whiteboard at the start of the day

Yesterday I put my not-for-profit hat on. Joined the good people assembled at Mozilla’s London offices to talk about not-for-profity type stuff and things.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish that all industries held workshops in barcamp format.

In the morning, everyone turned up and drank coffee and wrote ideas for sessions they’d either like to host or have someone else host on post-its. A few people had pre-prepared what they were going to say and a few (like me) hadn’t.

Everyone in the room then collectively decided what sessions would go where and at what time on the timetable.

I wanted to host a session about skills sharing hack days. I’m keen to start skills sharing workshops within the travel community, and just as soon as I can secure some copywriting work and a new place to live I’ll get on that.

The first thing to do when you have an idea, is ask people what they think of it. A barcamp is the perfect place to do so, because the pressure of presenting is removed. Everybody sits in a room and each person ia able to contribute. Rather than everyone just sitting in another lecture.

The feedback was interesting. I used the example of content providers trading skills with developers. Some people looked a little blank. One guy appeared to be suggesting the skills developers have are ‘worth more’ than the skills writers have. Therefore, it was impossible for developers to trade their skills with anyone other than other developers. This was refuted by developers in the room, who actually expressed interest in developing in exchange for content. I mentioned Ken Robinson, who often talks about how we as a society give more credit to what Boris once dubbed ‘crunchy’ subjects than to creative ones.

It also became apparent that larger charities wouldn’t use ‘skills sharing hack days’ for innovation, as they have a set structure in place. For them, a better idea might be to offer desk space and a computer to developers in exchange for some development work.

The really interesting place to host skills sharing hack days would be with small to medium-sized charities who could really do with the innovation.

The first stop would be to create surveys of what people wanted, the second would be to find the people who had the skills to bring to the hack. The third to acquire space and possibly sponsorship to run them.

We are starting to change the way we work. I hope skills sharing hack days will become part of that change across all industries.

A list of people who attended Barcamp Nonprofits can be found here.

Sophie Collard on Google+

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