Working with WWF – Part One


We know that we are pretty unusual, some would say weird, in our view that changing how we meet can change the world. Literally! #changehowyoumeetchangetheworld.

However, most people can envisage that the momentum from convening a large group of people can have a significant impact. So, hopefully, you can share our excitement at the prospect of a key meeting for 160 people we are developing for WWF in Cape Town in January. This is the first in a series of articles that will chart our work on this project.

Our initial excitement stems from the social impact we hope to create by combining large group intervention principles & methods with developmental facilitation.

Let’s start by explaining what we mean by this:



The principles of LGIs are rooted in applied behavioural science which looks at organisations as living human systems. This approach to working with large groups is aimed at creating a momentum for change in an organisation by doing real work in a large group of people to co-create a future state.



When a skilled facilitator uses their skills to enable a group to achieve some results, this is known as Basic Facilitation*. The missed opportunity in this approach is that a skilled facilitator’s interventions will be largely invisible to the group and the group will learn very little about themselves from this experience. Developmental Facilitation* prioritises the group learning about themselves through the process of facilitation and therefore has learning as an explicit outcome alongside the work to be done.



When we combine the principles from these two approaches, we develop a large group experience in which:


  • Ownership and momentum builds as we lead up to and into the meeting
  • Real work is done by the group in the meeting and co-creation is at the heart of the design
  • Inherent in the co-creative process is the inclusion of the different perspectives and experiences in the meeting


  • Space is made in the design for real-time sensing and responding as the work unfolds
  • Learning is fostered through periods of reflection and meaning-making from HOW people are working in the meeting


  • Structural hierarchies are levelled to make way for sharing of perspectives and collective wisdom
  • Inspiration and motivation is ignited from within the group to create a powerful combination of passion and responsibility
  • People own what they create and leaders are prepared to support the momentum of work that emerges from the meeting
  • The real impact of the meeting is in the work that happens afterwards, which cannot be predicted before the meeting but needs support


This is a vast contrast to the traditional approaches we see in the Town Halls, Kick-Offs and conferences we experience in most organisations. Whilst many people experiment with ways of creating more interaction and engagement in these forums, these experiments rarely challenge some of the fundamental aspects of how organisations engage with large groups of people and what this means for their organisational culture.

Inherent in most traditional large meetings are these ways of working:

  • Content is king – the meeting focuses around experts sharing their views
  • When questions are asked, solutions and answers are offered by these experts
  • Interaction is pretty superficial (mainly Q&A) and is more about entertainment than truly engaging the rich and diverse views in the room


  • Conflict and differences of opinion are often avoided and certainly not encouraged


  • Hierarchical leaders are deferred to for decisions and wisdom
  • The crowd are expected to be inspired by the wisdom of their leaders or external speakers enough to take action beyond the meeting


As you can see from the tables above, there is SO much potential to create a significant positive impact in large meetings within organisations if we actively avoid the pitfalls of the traditional approach.


The language of collective intelligence and co-creative collaboration are widely talked about in business these days but it takes a specific mindset and a willingness to build the necessary skillset to really leverage this way of working. It also requires the courage to create new ways of working by working in new ways!

In this meeting, WWF has decided to embrace something that embodies all the values that they hold at the core of the work they do in the world in the way that they work internally too. This programme’s agenda and how we’re working together to create it is an example of this commitment. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with them in this endeavour.

Part Two will look at how we’ve approached the co-creative design process…

* Definitions coined by Roger M Schwarz, The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches, Third Edition