Saturday, 2 July 2011

Cocreating Dinner part 1

Cocreating Dinner
Last night a dinner party was co-created. I invited six of the most interesting people in my life to join me for dinner. Not only would they join me for dinner, but they would also help construct the dinner by bringing part of the dinner along with them. None of them knew each other beforehand, so they were venturing into the unknown.

The food
I set my guests a challenge: make something I can eat (vegan and gluten free). The result was delicious. We had a three course meal with barely any effort.
Sam brought hummus and soda water for pre-dinner drinks/snacks.
I made Ethiopian Wat, which made for humorous conversation "What are we having?" "Wat" "What?" "Wat".
Side dish
Lucy brought a colourful, crunchy salad with lima beans, corn, capsicum, bean sprouts and snow peas.
Helen made a fruit salad with yoghurt and chocolate dressing all wrapped up in a meringue shell.

The evening
The conversation made the night. My guests started off as strangers to each other, but by the end of the evening, everyone was talking like old friends. Helen helped make this happen by asking everyone the question "What are you passionate about?" (a far better question than "What do you do for a living?").
Hearing the answers to these questions helped create an instant connection. A highlight was Brian's story of travelling to Colombia and being so confronted by the plight of the street kids there that he has made it his mission to raise funds for a local charity that gives the kids a home and a future. I was also fascinated by Aren's passion for brewing quality beer in his garage. (Can't wait to try the first gluten free batch).

Over dinner, Helen treated us to an engaging description of the human side of change management. She spoke about the disconnect between IT managers and business managers: "The IT guys treat it as a competition to rush out the latest version of the software as quickly as possible without thinking about how it's going to impact people". I went away with mountains of ideas about how to train people (create a playful atmosphere by leaving stuffed toys lying around) and how to campaign for change (find a project sponsor who really cares about a quality experience for users).

It was like eating dinner with a speaker from TED (Helen is a change management consultant and would deliver a terrific TED talk). Helen barely got a chance to eat because we were constantly firing questions at her!

The verdict
To close the evening, I asked everyone "What made tonight really cool?" (I love leading questions:P). The answer from everyone was "yes it was really cool" and "the people". My aim was to connect up the most interesting people in my life and that definitely happened.

The experience of creating dinner together was also a big success. We had a shared goal and that united us as much as the conversations did.

An unexpected piece of feedback was that it doesn't have to be food. My guests felt that any shared experience would have the same effect.

Cocreating experiences: the future
The next step is to help the idea replicate itself. I left my guests with an invitation to run their own Cocreation Dinners/Experiences and to shape it as they see fit.  I'm looking forward to:
- learning to iceskate backwards with Sam
- brewing beer with Aren
- going diving with Lucy
- learning to design and sew an outfit with Alice
- making origami with Helen
- having dinner with Brian

The how-to guide
Stay tuned for a how-to guide on hosting and attending Cocreation Experience nights.

1 comment:

Helen Palmer said...

Thanks Jeremy for arranging the cocreation dinner experience. It was entertaining and inspiring to start out as strangers, and leave knowing a little more about 'fellow travellers' and what's important to them. I too hope for more such events that might stimulate new connections and new ideas. Congratulations on taking an from concept to execution!