Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why a Sustainable Pace and Fun matters

Something beautiful happened at ThoughtWorks University today. For the first time we tried an Open Space format to facilitate informal learning in the group - which incidentally went quite well, I think. Amongst the parallel sessions, I facilitated a discussion on 'What good speakers do.' What happened right after the open space was almost remarkable though.

We've tried our best to keep a sustainable pace and create an environment of fun on the course, right from day one. I can't attribute what happened only to these factors, but I think it may have had a strong effect. So here's what happened. Right after the open space, a bunch of students walked up to ask if they could organise an event where people could do Ignite style talks, so they can not only share knowledge but also practice their presentation skills. This is exactly what we were planning to announce on Friday, but it was beautiful in that the students asked for it before we even mentioned it. It may seem like too little a thing to get excited about, but I think of it another way. What if we'd piled heaps of homework on the students and not focussed on the fun and informality aspect of the course. Would tired students who were not having fun have made a similar proposal?

There's something to be said about how sustainable pace and fun encourages people to contribute with things that they're passionate about. People who have fun at work and aren't working long hours under pressure are perhaps more likely to contribute to their employers/ clients in creative, unimaginable ways. And it's this individuality that often gives projects the edge they need. I might be getting needlessly excited, but well this is how I feel today - what do I do?

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