Telling the story of the conversation [take 2]


Richard Moore

Bcc: FYI
rkm website


If you’ve been following this thread on a transformational movement, you may have noticed that I keep seeking ways to make the project simpler and more efficient. A big efficiency gain came when I realized a council could do the same job in a weekend that an ongoing panel would have taken much longer to accomplish. Now I realize we don’t need to film the weekend events. It’s the story of the conversation that’s important, not footage of people talking. Leaving out the film crew, and the video editing, eliminates a big chunk of the project overhead.


Telling the story of the conversation
Each of our microcosm conversations is intended to be part of a larger, ongoing conversation, which is being carried out on behalf of the whole society. This means that a record needs to be made of each weekend event, a record that shows the conclusions that were reached, and the flow of ideas that led to those conclusions. The record needs to be available online, so anyone can review it, and so that future weekend conversations can benefit from the work that has already been done. 

A raw, detailed record of each council conversation is created by the facilitator, who writes each person’s comments down on flipcharts, as part of the DF process. Flipcharts may or may not be used during the public meetings, but in any case some kind of notes will be taken, so that we’ll have a raw, detailed record of that part of the conversation as well. 

This detailed record then needs to be summarized into a storyboard, telling the story of the flow of conversation, leading up to the conclusions reached. In a DF session, the facilitator sometimes creates such storyboards, as part of the session, so that participants can see the story of their conversation so far. Often some kind of diagram works well, or a dialog-map, where idea-bubbles are connected by arrows. 

Here’s an example of a conversation record, from

 a DF session that was held in St-Imier, Switzerland, in June. The first seven slides are a storyboard made afterwards by the facilitator, and the rest of the slides show the raw flipcharts from the session, in the order they were created, including a dialog-map summary that was made midway through the conversation:

If there is time available in a given weekend to take photos of the detailed notes and upload them, that would be worth doing, so that a detailed record of the conversation can be available for future reference. It is essential, however, that a storyboard summary always be created, so that the work can be carried forward to future conversations. 
For topics that are very complex, skilled artistry may be needed to create a storyboard that makes the topics clearly understandable to anyone who might be interested. Sometimes a clever cartoon does this best, or some kind of creative diagram. 

Some people understand best by seeing, and others by hearing. So that the conversations can be most readily understood, each storyboard slide show will also be made available as a short video, with a narrator providing a clear verbal explanation of the material on each slide. 

A project website will be maintained, where all of the conversation records will be freely available. There will be a description of what each conversation is about, along with links to the storyboard slide show, the video, and if available, the detailed notes. A meta-storyboard, and a narrated version, will also be maintained on the site – a storyboard that tells the story of the overall conversation, as it has flowed from one weekend to another. 

Anyone who watches the narrated meta-storyboard will get a clear overview of how the overall conversation has gone so far, and a clear overview of the evolving vision as it currently exists. Anyone can then delve into the weekend records to see more details about topics of interest.


Still to come in Part 3: Achieving self-organization; Bringing in the 99%