Amanda Pearson, who is the WWOOF UK team member responsible for volunteer liaison, pulled out all the stops so that we could tell you about our recent Counc il meeting just a day after it finished. Thanks Amanda!
Staff and directors assembled at Redfield Community in Winslow, Bucks at the end of February for the first of their triannual Council meetings. As WWOOF UK was housed at Redfield until last June this felt like a bit of a pilgrimage for me, especially as it is also the first community I visited on my own exploration of a path less travelled.
Some friends look at me slightly pityingly when I tell them I am going to be at work/in a meeting all weekend; but I can honestly say I find our get-togethers quite jolly (and no, I’m not looking for a pay raise). Part of the joy of working for an organisation that is aligned with my own values is that it attracts like-minded colleagues; perhaps the only challenge for some of us is where the boundary blurs between friend and co-worker! How many people can say they went to work and cried with laughter? I can!
As part of our agenda we had invited an independent digital consultant – Rachel Collinson – to help us navigate towards developments of our online presence. Rachel has recently been developing a workshop on the topic and was looking for some guinea pigs to try it out on; it centred around a word game and involved us creatively answering questions she posed by incorporating (apparently) random key words picked from a card deck. Some of the ‘out of the box’ responses had me in stitches. But in the end this was no laughing matter – we generated a ‘digital manifesto’ to underpin what will hopefully become our digital strategy. Watch this space!
Indeed it was a weekend in which we ‘pushed the boat out’ and tried a few different techniques in our decision-making processes. In particular Katie Hastings, one of our newer directors, has started to demonstrate a particular talent for effective meeting facilitation (hurrah!) and introduced us to Edward de Bono’s (physician, psychologist, author, inventor and consultant) thinking hats.
For readers who have not encountered this tool – do check it out – but in brief it works with the metaphor of everyone ‘putting on a hat’ to explore an issue in a particular way; be it to give their emotional reaction (red hat), to identify the strengths and pluses of a proposal (yellow hat) or to establish the information and facts (white hat), etc. (You’ll see from the photos that we used them literally as well as metaphorically.)
The system provides a way of collectively looking at an issue from a variety of angles. Along with a bit of ‘temperature checking’ (hands high in the air to express support, in the middle for neutrality or low for something we didn’t like) we whistled through setting our operational objectives for the year ahead in record time.
Of course, the recipe for a successful meeting involves not just a well organised agenda (thank you Holly!), a good chair, and active participation from everyone present – but ensuring everyone’s physical needs are met. Redfield did us proud as always with plenty of carrot cake, a fabulous curry on Saturday night and cozy accommodation. Didn’t we do well? Thank you one and all for making anorganisational necessity as pleasant as it could possibly be.