Workshop Philosophy and T&Cs

This philosophy and T&Cs heavily borrow from Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshops

Workshop philosophy

This workshop is meant to be a guide to help you discuss the aspirations, challenges, successes, and frustration of responsible technology use in organisations, especially NGOs. 

This is not a lecture, it is a workshop.  It is not a webinar to take in, where you sit back and listen, it is a workshop.  It is a time for scribbling, colouring, scratching out, note taking, starting over and sharing your work.   It is a workshop and it is for your work.

There are no grades, no marks.  Learning and improving is the goal, not perfection.  We need the space to be bad at something first, before we can become good at it.  This is a space for that.

The magic of the workshop is having the space and time to engage and to generously support others on a similar journey and for them to support you. Take what you need and be in the conversations that interest you. And make a consistent commitment to show up when you have time in your schedule.

The magic happens in discussions between everyone.

You cannot fail. Work at your own pace

There are no tests. No grades.  This is learning.

We want you to commit to this workshop and to fit it into your already jam-packed life. We offer you guidance and peer accountability, and ask you to respond with effort and contribution.

This workshop is a safe space with support from people just like you to help you do the work that matters to you. We celebrate discovery, possibility, curiosity, generosity and the asynchronous nature of today’s world.

You decide how much time you have to contribute and the effort you’ll put in and the ways you’ll apply it to your life.

The truth is that the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. If you simply watch the videos, that’s fine, but the real magic happens when you become a contributor, a teacher, and a partner. The real magic in our workshops is when you do the work and the work is stretching by giving it your best attempt and joining discussions with other students. It will feel uncomfortable, at first.

During the workshop, we provide a flexible structure. The sessions outline the work, and the discussions make it real. You can take a few days away, then pick up where you left off, work within your time constraints, balance other responsibilities and address obstacles so you can keep moving forward no matter what.

The feelings of falling behind or not doing enough are a trap. We’ll fight hard to keep those feelings from distracting you from doing the work that matters.

Terms of service

The terms of service are simple:

  • Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.
  • Don’t quote anyone outside of this discussion board without asking first. please keep conversations from this workshop inside the workshop. Don’t share anyone else’s words outside this forum without asking them first
  • Don’t post anything that’s confidential.  don’t post anything here that you’d be unwilling to see on the internet, because this is the internet
  • Don’t pitch any products or services.
  • Please don’t grab attention. Don’t put emojis or animation in your subject lines. Please don’t measure how many responses you get or how many people you can engage with. Attention and trust go hand in hand, but it’s trust that matters most. Find your cohort and don’t worry about the others
  • Don’t swim until at least thirty minutes after eating.

We reserve the right to ask you to leave the workshop if these rules are broken.

Contributing your best work

Bring your assertions

Freedom starts by committing to a possibility that could become reality and assertions are a key part of this work.

What are assertions?

When you point out an insight, your colleague could say, “Hmm interesting. That’s nice to know.”

When you make an assertion, all of a sudden, you’ve made this insight more real. You’re on the hook, because there’s more of you in what you’re posting.

If someone ignores an insight, you can shrug your shoulders and walk away. But an assertion demands action. In or out, yes or no. It’s about forward motion.

You’re saying “Based on my insight of X, I believe that Y is true. To go a step further, given X and Y, I think we should do Z.”

An assertion is your take on the world. It could be an action, it could a philosophy, it could be a theory, a perspective. But it’s like a thesis: it’s got to be debatable. Someone should be able to disagree with you. There is risk in an assertion.

It’s not just isolated facts here and there–it’s those facts, as interpreted through YOUR LENS. Your background, the accumulation of your experiences, your values, your insight, leads to the assertion of what you think this insight means.

It’s worth a moment to consider: You’ve been trained to repeat what’s covered in class, to write it out on the test, to deliver provable truths. But the next step for you, for everyone who does work that matters, is to go beyond that.

A fact as a standalone is just a fact. A fact, interpreted by you, is given meaning about what the implications are.

One event could be experienced by ten people, who come up with ten different assertions.   One person could experience one event, and come up with ten possible assertions….

The hard part is picking the one you want to stand behind.

Choose an assertion which inspires people about your version of the future. The one where, if everyone believed you and came on board, you would be willing to sign your name to it…

Why assertions are generous and brave

To be clear: it takes courage to say your assertions out loud. Even more to write them down.

There’s a posture of advocacy built into assertions. It’s saying, if I were in charge, here’s what I would do, here’s where I would go, here’s what I’m betting on.

When you share an assertion, you could end up being wrong.

Asserting is a generous thing to do, because it gives other people something to work with. Even if someone disagrees with your assertion, you’re adding value because the assertion is helping both of you come to a better understanding of the challenge or proposed solution.

Here’s the problem

If you make an assertion, you might be wrong.  And if you make an assertion, someone might ask you to dig deeper, or take action.  And if you take action, you might not succeed.

And failure is no fun.   But assertions are the real work.

There are plenty of people sharing insights, more than ever before.

Inside the Responsible Organisations Workshop, we’re pushing you to practice making assertions throughout your projects. To take a stand and make a principled argument. Not merely a matter of opinion, but your take on where to drive, even when you don’t have a map handy.

The journeys that matter the most rarely come with map.

And your fellow students, your readers – your future followers – are waiting for the ride.

Your best work

Each lesson should be seen as a project, not a homework assignment. It’s designed to be helpful to you as you write it, to your fellow students as they read and respond to it, and to others that encounter it.

You are writing to figure out where you want to go and how you’ll get there.

No need, then, to repeat the question or to write like you’re answering on a test. Instead, treat the lessons as prompts, and then go create something worth reading, something full of your assertions, your commitments and your belief.

Community discussions

A huge part of the Responsible Organisations Workshop is the community discussions.

It may feel unfamiliar to dive in and make comments on other students’ work, but that’s where the learning magic happens and we know you’ve got some great thoughts and ideas to offer.

If you are looking for a place to start for how to leave helpful comments and create rich discussion, consider the work by Stanier, in The Coaching Habit, which uses the 7 questions outlined below.

Help one another dig deep into your decisions with impact, strategy, meaning and possibility. Use questions that open doors, uncover and create new avenues.

Hold up a mirror to one another, to make sure that your solutions and decisions are solving the right problems or designing the future that you truly seek.

  • The Kickstart Question—“What’s on your mind?”: This is the opening question to help you break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
  • The AWE Question—“And what else?”: This question helps you to uncover and generate new options or possibilities, while overcoming the urge to give premature advice.
  • The Focus Question—“What’s the real challenge here for you?”: The first 2 questions are likely to get the other party talking and sharing. Yet, they’re probably not highlighting the real problem. This question helps you to identify the underlying issue to be addressed.
  • The Foundation Question—“What do you want?”: This question helps people to gain clarity on what they want, which improves communication and decision-making.
  • The Lazy Question—“How can I help?”: This question is “lazy” because it gets the other person to propose a solution without you having to develop one.
  • The Strategic Question—“If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”: This question gets the other person to consider if he/she is truly prepared to commit to a decision, rather than jump in half-heartedly.
  • The Learning Question—“What was most useful to you?”: Coaching for development (focuses on the people handling the issues) is more impactful than coaching for performance (tackling specific challenges and putting out day-to-day fires). This question allows you to create a learning moment to coach for development, in addition to coaching for performance to solve the problem.