Emergent design

I’ve been pondering what Training for Change call emergent design a fair bit of late – comparing it to what I do at the moment, wondering how much further I have to go to be allowing the flow of a workshop to be genuinely emergent. I often plan in detail. I have argued in the past that it’s that planning that allows me to be flexible: it builds my understanding of the group, of the aims of the day, of a variety of possible approaches – so that when I’m with a group I can change my plan with relative ease and confidence. So Johnnie Moore’s recent post Time grabbed my attention. A snippet:

Until I am sitting in the room with the participants, I don’t really have a clear idea of what I want to do, moment to moment. Once I am in the room, I find the next activity usually suggests itself

Now that feels like a step beyond what I’ve described above, and one I’m keen to play with. I’ll be at a weekend event in April, looking at Training for Change’s direct education model, which includes emergent design. Who knows, perhaps a catalyst for playing around and trying out a few new steps? I’ll let you know how it goes.

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One thought on “Emergent design

  1. Interesting. I believe that some of those I work with over design and feel tempted to stick to the plan. Personally I think you have an idea/structure of what you want to do, but need the craft skill to adapt and amend in the moment. And this is further conditioned by what it is you’re doing. If it’s a consensus event, then to a large degree it’s participant directed (the small other part being the role of facilitator and what’s expected of you). If it’s a consultation event, then the frame is pretty much defined for you. And so on. I don’t believe in designed approaches to emergent design; as it seems oxymoronic. To my mind it’s the mark of a facilitator who’s an artist, rather than a practitioner.

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