IMG_4461Recently, I represented Collabforge at OuiShare Fest 2016, the leading conference on the cutting edge of collaboration in Paris.

While the conference was born out of the trends of “collaborative consumption” and “sharing economy” – think ZipCar, Uber, AirBnB and any site that connects you with peers to share resources – it has increasingly become about how we work together to make a better world.

This year’s theme “After the Gold Rush” recognised that the sharing economy hype didn’t necessarily deliver the happier and more sustainable communities we expected, and may have ultimately made some people’s lives more precarious. There was also a huge amount of discussion about the blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin and Ethereum), including the first ever lifeform to reproduce via the blockchain.

IMG_4506My role at the conference this year was to run a workshop on how we use our stories as changemakers to discover common learnings and patterns which can then be packaged and shared with other changemakers (this is the premise and aim of Collabforge’s online knowledge platform). The goal was to test a workshop process which would help people understand how this knowledge can be created, and the value for doing so, in a more familiar hands-on setting. This in turn would make it easier to generate content to be shared online.

IMG_4529I had twenty people, lots of lego, and achieved the outcome I was hoping for. The participants learned a lot just from telling their stories, and had fun using the lego. At the end, it really clicked how common patterns existed across their stories, and how it would be useful from a collaboration and learning perspective to identify and share the patterns in this way. The concept that this practice could be delivered in a short workshop (just 90 minutes) feels tested, and I’m ready to iterate the design and take the next step in the Epic Collaboration story.

I also spent a lot of time with folks from the Enspiral collective in New Zealand, including Rich Bartlett who has done some great work writing up many of his thoughts on different topics from the festival. The best way to browse this material is on their Enspiral Tales collection on Medium. One of the best ones for those keen to learn how to work in a new way is his post on Bootstrapping a Bossless Organisation.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit on the final day to Nuit Debout, a French remix of the Occupy Wall Street approach to protest and resistance. Rich invited me to join a discussion with a member of their digital team, Emmanuel Witvoet, to discuss their use of collaborative technologies and approaches. It was very inspiring and in-depth two hour conversation, which Rich has written up a summary of the conversation and the recording which is available here.

IMG_4536Finally, the conference closed on a high note when one of the grandfathers of modern collaboration theory, Harvard professor Yochai Benkler, gave a rousing closing talk asking us to keep ethics at the heart of what we do. You can watch this talk on the OuiShare youtube channel, along with all other talks from the conference.

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