Against a backdrop of countless established physical gatherings that moved online, many of which are breathlessly awaiting the return to physical, NDB, while originally intended to be held at a ‘cool space in Amsterdam’ had to quickly move online and now… will probably stay online.
We love this story for a number of reasons.
From the very beginning, Myriam maintained a laser focus on the purpose of NDB – it is intended to be a community of facilitators, and as one facilitator recently coined: ‘an R&D department that I could otherwise never afford’
It’s a festival. Not a conference, or a summit, or a (groan) webinar – but a FESTIVAL, and with all the connotations that brings with it. Colour, joy, fun, diversity, innovation, inspiration, creativity and much more.
Their proposition is dead simple – and powerful: “We experiment with ‘never done before’ approaches delivered by some of the world’s best facilitators to co-create a 24 hours global facilitation festival”
When it became clear in early 2020 that they wouldn’t be able to host it in the aforementioned ‘cool space in Amsterdam’, Myriam didn’t simply resign herself to moving online, but quickly and purposefully set out to discover (and experiment with) what the virtual option would offer that the physical could never. A self-confessed introvert, she says she’s found online gatherings much more accessible and valuable, as the awkward networking has disappeared, replaced with carefully designed interactive moments. Other unintended outcomes include:
Being able to open the festival up to a much broader global community
The ease of running workshops in multiple time zones
Discovering that they didn’t need to wait for the annual festival to build and nurture their community (see ‘Facilitators in Digital Residence’) – they could be in contact all year round
This is literally THE coolest use of a Mural board we’ve ever seen.
The challenges of community-building in these distanced and virtual times have been discussed at length but with the likes of NDB leading the way, it’s not only possible, but made better by being virtual.
In addition to Myriam’s approach, here’s a great resource from IDEO we often refer to for designing and maintaining a virtual community.