Learnings we will take from 2021 into 2022

My primary reflection on 2021: it was marginally less crap than 2020. Certainly not the magnitude of crap that was 2020, but with insurrections, revelations and mutations, it still seemed a year we were all happy to see come to an end. Perhaps if we keep our expectations low and have a goal of 2022 being slightly better than 2021, we can win. Think minor iterations that might build to something major over a decade or two. Can we accomplish that?

And on that note – here are some reflections from 2021 that might help us build a better 2022.

Work sustainably. Like many, I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of 2020, so I tried to focus a bit on keeping a pace I felt was survivable. I slowed down, said “yes” to less and “no” to more. I tried to keep my Friday’s unscheduled. As a result, I either paid attention to critical things that I hadn’t managed to get to earlier in the week, or I logged off either early or entirely. I breathed a bit more in 2021. I hope to continue this trend.

Content without convening is dead content. Convene potential users before you start drafting content, ask questions and listen. Then generate the draft content, convene some more, and get feedback and input. Drafts are prime mechanisms for contribution, co-creation and engagement. Don’t strive for perfection. Strive to get information and feedback. We took this approach in developing the V1 of the Data Playbook for the Solferino Academy at IFRC, a massive part of 2021 for us. As we were doing it, I realised how critical the process was for ensuring a user base. Between Heather Leson, Melissa El Hamouch (from 510), and I hosting, we held 50 + sprint sessions over five months with 200 potential users resulting in over 120 pieces of content. The user base is the vast Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, and in 2022, we are hoping to learn how to make it useable to many different networks. One approach will be making the content as portable as possible, so networks can easily edit and host their Data Playbook versions.

Co-creation is critical to ensure that intended communities and networks use any knowledge asset. In October, we partnered with Kristin Antin, Knowledge Collaboration Lead at HURIDOCS. We discussed how to create useful, useable & used network-centric resources with thirteen other network-centric resource designers.

Using data is about a shared journey towards truth. We’ve long been saying ‘Data is a Team Sport’ – it’s about people interacting and working together to determine how close to the facts data can get them. “Yo humans yo!” has been a battle cry not just with the Data Playbook but also with 360GIving’s Data Champions cohort. Both projects encourage people to interact to have a shared journey with data, a learning journey with truth as a destination.

Virtual convenings don’t suck when there is meaningful interaction. Build trust, solidarity and aim for productivity. Yes, this builds on our previous work and is also applicable for face to face, but worth restating. We were proud to be an integral part of the MozFest and RightsCon session support offerings and see their participant bases and networks expand immensely in the virtual space. We also saw continued demand for the Virtual Session Design Lab, as individuals further developed their facilitation skills and the Virtual Event Design Lab where teams strengthened their abilities to convene. In terms of resources for virtual convening, FabRiders published:

Capacity building is an internal process for organisations and individuals, while movement building is what organisations and individuals do with external actors. We helped GNP+, the Global Network of People Living with HIV, develop a six-day virtual training course to prepare community consultants to implement the Stigma Index. Part of this process was to help build the capacity of the consultants to engage in Movement building. During the development of the course, It became clear how capacity and movement building are linked. The goal in capacity-building should be to strengthen resilience and sustainability for organisations and individuals to participate in movement building. Movement building aims to build solidarity between stakeholders to create strategies that dismantle existing power and privilege to address systematic problems.

What we’re looking forward to in 2022.

It will be one decade since I started working as an independent consultant, and a close colleague advised me, “whatever you do, don’t call it ‘dirkslater.com'” and thus, FabRiders was born. Thanks, Gunner! In articulating what FabRiders does, we’ve gotten clearer. We facilitate capacity and movement building.

  • The launch of the Data Playbook v1 will be happening in the first quarter of 2022.
  • Facilitating Movement Building, a new FabRiders workshop offering to go alongside our current Session and Event Design Lab offerings. We’re excited that we will get to do it first with Create Ireland this month.
  • Facilitator and movement building coaching at MozFest and RightsCon.

And working with you? Please get in touch if you need facilitation of a critical event or want to strengthen your team’s ability to run strategic convenings.