The annual conference of the European Organisation Design Forum was held in Budapest, Hungary between 19-20 October 2018. It was not the first time, though, that our team contributed to EODF: we were present at the 2013 forum in Wien and later at the Org Design WS held in the Kaptár Coworking Office, Budapest. After five years we were happy to grab the opportunity and support mutual thinking with our visual solutions.
Organisers have put together a lively, professional program and we enthuse over zippy, thought over events. For us the most gripping was the variegation of the forum. This manifested through the methodology as well: beside great key note speeches the program featured plentiful of Open Space Technologies, workshops, keynote speeches, panel discussions, virtual presentations, playback theatre, awarding ceremony and stakeholder improvisation as well. The current chairman of the organisation has also resigned in the frame of the program and then the new trustee was announced. The event played all the registers from the solemn parts to the most cheerful partying. All the revealing of a living, functioning and breathing professional community were palpable. A further speciality of the conference was that we were in the “old” Krisztina Boulevard headquarters of Hungarian Telekom, participating at the last large-scale event held there.
The main topic of the conference was “How To design for Business Ecosystems?”, with subcategories like Connectivity, Platform and Digitalisation. It was good to see how the global level event was enhanced and made more colourful by the Hungarian specialists: András Vicsek network researcher, Hajni Ságodi HR Consultant with the stakeholder improvisation, and Csaba Császár (former OD Partner) and Csaba László facilitationg the Open Space – they all have been gingering mutual thinking.
Not only the topics and methodology, but also the 120 participants coming from 21 countries made a highly variegated community: beside many European countries, numerous participants have come from practically all the continents, making the event truly global. It was exciting to see colleagues getting promptly together by organisations to discuss and evolve further what they experienced at the conference.
Variegation was present in our solutions too: we made not only visual records, but fostered event success also using 8 different methods.
Grafacity has prepared for the EODF Open Space Technology (OST) probably the largest template of its history, the conference marketplace reaching 6.6 x 2.2 m in size. The outsize paper featured the topics of the two timeslots of the two days each, and those of the 12+1 locations. The location signs were defined mutually with the facilitators, one sign being at the marketplace and another on the Open Space flipchart to identify the section. Connection of topics and locations was helped by the Open Space Map (room assignment) we made.
Besides the templates for the Open Space Technology we made visual recordings too, of course, partly by the traditional way: on paper for one of the Alastair Mitchell-Baker and Stelio Verzera facilitated “pre-conf” workshop on the “Design for Ecosystems” (that was exciting for us as well),
and partly also on foam-centred board, enabling us to build a shapely tower from the finished recordings by the end of the conference. The foam-centred board is especially useful when a flow-like summary is being made in parallel, so to have an eye on the big picture while also making “boreholes” into details from time to time. When compared to the large paper sheets, they’re a lot easier to move around, they can be put on display promptly, they can stand alone – and today 100% recycled can be obtained*.
Having the entire tower built up, it became clear to all that the cardboard tower, by creating the look-at-it-from-all-sides experience, opens up exciting perspectives in terms of visual recording and event design.
*Earlier, indeed, it was the absolutely non-eco-friendly foam-centred board we used (5 or 10 mm thick styrene board covered with cardboard on both sides), which usually serves as building or decoration material at fairs, but due to its non-degradable centre it was environmentally polluting. Thanks to our supplier this is now over, being the fully bio-degradable, 100% paper based cell board available.
A so-called “Flow record” was made as well, condensing the entire conference flow on one single sheet. Here we had to use space sparingly of course and highlight the most essential elements of the process. We have experimented with this kind of recording, to the delight of our client, at the organisation development process of Budapest Corvinus University, facilitated by Csaba Császár.
The summary recording was eventually given to the resigning chairman, Jeoren van Bree, together with the community drawing made mutually with the participants as a surprise, expressing their gratitude through their own stories with Dr. Jeroen van Bree.
We were pleased to have the opportunity to make a welcome-placard where the organisers thanked the sponsors for their generosity.
Our digital visual record was made in the course of the panel discussion “Ecosystems and the challenges of cooperation”, led by Hajni Sagodi, Shell internal consultant, where the spectacularly projected visual recordings provided intense support for the audience seeking to keep track of the discussion.
For us, in terms of the use of visual tools, Hajni’s other facilitating contribution was the most exciting: ceding to the inspirational atmosphere of the conference and on the basis of the Deep Democracy block, we formed a recording less conventional and more artistic than usual.
The improvisational stakeholder discussion (role play) brought out the actors’ opinion in the ecosystem of an imaginary enterprise, related to the planned digital transformation.
Made on deep-brown paper with black collage and chalk marker, the recording emphasized the dramatic nature of the discussion. Vanda appears in the digital staffer’s pivotal role who overtakes a couple of hundred customer service co-workers’ job overnight. The old style “offline” company and the actors of its whole ecosystem spoke in a dramatic way, taking on the improvised roles, undertaking their opinion. Woven with lots of humour, the inspirational block was one of the pinnacles of the conference.
For many of the participants, having already met visual facilitators, visualisation meant not much of a novelty. However, surprising was for them the diversity of various sorts of visual facilitation they experienced at the conference. We seized not only the content, but the essence too. The recordings that came into being were not only decorative, but they also conveyed – in the energetic sense of the word – what was formulated at the forum.
We are proud that we could contribute to delivering the deep professional concepts, approach and messages of the presenters and topic-owners. Visual facilitation is clearly a help in reaching these goals and it was pleasing to see how well people exploited this opportunity.
Bloopers that made the forum as special as it was:
In our nearly decade long practice it has happened for the second time that the prepared methodology placards were nowhere to find in the morning. The sheets prepared during the night became prey of the enthusiastic cleaners, so, dragged out from the selective bin, they propagated the “Law of the Two Feet” adorned with coffee stains. We’ll probably make larger and more “I entreat you not to throw it out!!!” post-it notes for the next similar event.
We haven’t had it yet: thanks to the techniques we could live through the moments before the beginning of the world: there was a black-out in the midst of a keynote speech and we all sunk into the deepest, inky blackness. Yes, that’s why we prefer to work in analogue, on paper.
So we said goodbye to the venue of the forum, the Hungarian Telekom headquarters on Krisztina Boulevard, where we are also linked through many great memories: conference recordings, strategic cooperation and visual techniques training. We hope we can carry on with them soon by the Stadions!
Out of the many contributors of the conference we express our special thanks to Elvira Kalmár and Eszter Nagy, for involving us in the co-creative work!
Photography: Rita Kertész, Gábor Kapolka and Szilárd Strenner
More information about EODF: http://eodf.eu
I’m Szilárd Strenner, the general manager of Grafacity Visual Services, a visual facilitator and organisational development consultant by profession. I’ve been doing trainings and leading groups since 1994. I got familiar with visual recording in 2010, and I wrote my final thesis on this topic for my OD consultant education. We set up Grafacity Visual Services and became active members of IFVP, International Forum of Visual Practitioners. I take part in nearly a thousand of hours of visual client-work independently or together with my colleagues annually. I would like to better understand how we can support the change processes with our visual means the most efficiently.