Reciprocity and Roses

Viv‘s done a great post saving me a lot of work sharing some of the many interesting things we learnt or relearnt together over the last three weeks.

Meanwhile Euan restates a great principle of networked work, which is reciprocity – and relates closely to what Viv says about following a distributed, rather than hub-and-spoke notion of how groups can work.

I was interested by Euan’s last line:

Why should I re-tweet your tweets or like your Facebook page when you won’t even tell me your name?

It reminded me of something Viv and I emphasised more as our various workshops went on. We started to go to some lengths to get groups engaged in learning everyone’s names. We used some improv name games which made it fun and playful, and we did away with pre-prepared badges. These usually are a bit small and full of lots of general not so helpful information.

I hate it when I have to conspicuously inspect someone’s badge before affecting to remember their name. I like a badge to make it easy. So we got people to do their own with the suggestion they just put on it the name they want to be known by during the workshop… and to help everyone look good by making it really clear. Even after a good name game, I still need all the help I can get.

(Who was it said that there are few sounds people like more than that of their own name being used clearly. There’s a limit to the wisdom of Shakespeare to which my title alludes.)

It seemed to work a treat for me… and was the subject of quite a lot of approval from partipants too. Being able to refer to people by time really supports lots of contact and mutual respect. I can easily justify sparing the opening two hours of a one-week course to just this. Not least because a lot more is going on than the more retention of some factual information.

I suspect that not knowing names greatly inhibits interaction in ways we may not normally notice. And instead of pretending it’s not an issue, we gave it a name and made it something to talk about.

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