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The Spark Blog

An occasional series of thoughts and reflections on the role of narrative in organizational change, branding and knowledge work

Design notes from an innovation event

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FIA Europe is a trade association for those involved in financial and commodity exchange-traded derivatives markets. The FIA Europe InfoNet has been running for four years and acts as an opinion-forming forum for the futures and options industry. The meetings are always clubby, lively and thought-provoking, but for a meeting earlier this July, FIA Europe decided to take it up a notch. The meeting was about innovation, so they worked with Sparknow to spice up the design and facilitation of the meeting.

Here are three design notes to hold in mind when you watch the video, all of them from the design thinking we do in our collaborative encounters enquiry and our thinking about how narrative works in physical meetings.

  1. Beginnings and endings | what are ways to start and end, which will create a space in between in which people talk and listen differently? We started with a neat little icebreaker Madelyn Blair taught us, which helps release people from sticking with their own point of view and see the world through different eyes for a bit. We ended with Clive Holtham’s hexagons, to help consolidate the threads of thought and create, out of the ending of the meeting, the sense of forward momentum so the meeting sits in a longer trajectory.
  2. Counterpoint | FIA Europe holds the InfoNet meetings at Grocers’ Hallgenerally, a lushly formal setting. You’ll spot in the video that we staged the round tables in a way that is deliberately at odds with the surroundings and played with that strangeness.
  3. Curation | the first thing we did was think about different ways to help the meeting travel afterwards: how could it be curated a bit differently? We invited photographer Karen Robinson to give a different edge to the photos, and invited in the Incidental film crew who worked with us on #storiesinaction. They made the short video that runs here. And into the design we built visual aspects such as the hexagons and the counterpoint. We knew these would help with the visual essay that would carry the impression of the meeting both to those who hadn’t been able to come, and to those who had been there to remind them of what they’d been part of and make it a more memorable moment, connected to other moments.
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