.IASK usually has an annual Associations Meeting where members meet and exchange ideas and knowledge. Part of this meeting is conducted as a forum. The objective of a forum is to deepen every participant’s thinking process in order to find solutions or to help develop new concepts. It is based on the active contribution of all participants. Each person in turn gets a chance to voice his or her ideas without being interrupted. Of course you can pass your turn at any time. No one is to react to what has been said before. No side conversations will be allowed.
A very important condition for a forum to be successful is that no one feels judged or attacked about his/her ideas. When taking their turn, participants do not make reference to what has been said before. Phrases such as: ”I don’t agree with Andrew because …”, or “Just like Jean, I think that …” are strictly forbidden. They do not add anything and are time consuming, especially if Andrew or Jean does not recognize the words he/she had spoken. Everybody gets hot and starts thinking about things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Active and respectful listening creates a safe environment where everyone feels recognized and, when there is no stress, self-consciousness tends to disappear and creativity is at its best.
If time permits, each participant gets 2 or more opportunities to share his or her thinking as it evolves, fed as it is by what other participants say. This iterative process is a very productive and effective way of finding the best solution in a very consensual way. If you have never had the experience, we strongly recommend that you try it out at your next professional meeting.