Evaluating Conferences and Workshops using The Worm

February 27, 2008

At the Knowledge Management Round Table today, Michelle Lambert the convenor, trialled the use of “The Worm” as an approach to assess the energy levels and engagement levels throughout the day of the workshop.  The Worm has been run a few times in national debates during Federal Election periods to assess whether the selected audience prefers one politician over another.  I thought that it would be an interesting idea to use The Worm for participants to self-assess their energy and engagement levels during the workshop or conference as a form of feedback to the conference organiser to show what they really felt drawn to and when they went to sleep.

Michelle painted a good picture of The Worm and regularly asked the participants to not forget their worm, feel if it is wriggling, and make sure that they record it at regular intervals.  In any seminar or conference, it would not really be desirable to keep the energy levels constantly high the whole time but to have periods of reflection or quieter times to build up for the next big rush.  But what this approach attempts to evaluate is the turning points of what clicked with people and what turned them off.  Ideally, people would annotate their worm with notes stating just that and also noting the highest and lowest energy levels during the day.

 At the very least, it is a self-evaluation tool for the participants to check in with themselves, assess how they are going and record it rather than stare blankly at a powerpoint screen.  Preferably, the feedback on the collective Worms would provide a valuable insight for conference organisers into participant’s attention.

There are many variants of The Worm that could not just assess energy or engagement levels but emotional states (happy/sad), level of group interaction, or from a meta-perspective, an assessment of why they felt the way that they felt to gain a deeper level of self-introspection.

It would be really interesting Michelle to see what the results of The Worm were and whether people felt that it was useful or just another of Luke’s crazy ideas that fell flat …

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Killing Innovation – A Manager’s Guide

February 13, 2008

I wrote a short article the other day about innovation and someone took umbrage at one of my lines that the public sector (as the traditional hierarchical bureaucracy) has 1001 ways to kill a good idea and that we need to move towards a model that has 1001 ways to advance a good idea.  Innovation can often be really difficult for managers who are under time and budget constraints to get the job done rather than look to do things differently. 

I came across this blog post which describes 5 questions that can be raised by a manager to kill innovation.  The beauty of responding with a question is that it makes the innovator have to justify their innovation to you through logical reasoning based on your own assumptions – a phantasmagorically circular way of killing innovation slowly but surely. 

I think we are now up to counting 1035 ways to kill innovation (although we cheated because we started at 1001)!! 


Over-consumption in Western Society – About Stuff

February 12, 2008

Saw a great video recently featuring Annie Leonard on “The Story of Stuff“.  It illustrates in just 20 short minutes the problems associated with the linear economic process we have in place in today’s society that is resulting in environmental degradation, a spiritual vacuum, and the treadmill of overconsumption.  It’s like reading Clime Hamilton’s Affluenza but viewing it instead as a simple story featuring systems thinking that is great for kids and adults alike.

Wonderful how these new Internet tools are so easily available and how simple stories can be constructed that are highly motivating.  A must for anyone with children – switch off the TV and spend half an hour around the computer screen watching this as a family and then discussing what you could do to make a little bit of difference.