The founder of the Berlin Change Days talks about his vision on collaboration, explains the idea of creating engaging spaces and how he will put this into practice in his workshop and shares why he is looking forward to the Berlin Change Days 2011.
Who is Holger Nauheimer?
I’m the founder of the Berlin Change Days. I have been active in the field of change management for the last 20 years, many people know me from my online publication The Change Management Toolbook and various blogs. I’ve created the Berlin Change Days 3 years ago, because I realised there wasn’t really any good place for European change practitioners to meet and exchange new trends and ideas.
In my work, I’ve always been looking at organisations and the way people collaborate within organisations. There are organisations where people aren’t and other organisations where people come happy to the office every morning. Currently my main interest is the issue of collaboration. What makes people collaborate?
So what are your ideas on this issue, what is it that makes people collaborate?
First of all it depends on the organisational culture; the way leaders understand their task of bringing out the best of people and providing a space where good, open conversations can grow. It also depends on processes and the organisational setup. It’s about the opportunities for people to meet physically and virtually and to converse across organisational and geographical boundaries. This is what most organisations have just started to find out; how collaboration across departments and boundaries can be organised.
Currently you are also very active in facilitating online collaboration, do you see any additional challenges in working in the virtual world?
The more I think about it, the less I make a distinction between the so called ’real’ and ‘virtual’ world. It is one thing, one big space in which we are operating. Virtual tools give us additional opportunities to collaborate with people, in real time and asynchronously. At the same time many people still lack the skills and knowledge about effective processes in the virtual world. People just believe that we need the right tools and collaboration will work out, which is not true. So there are some additional challenges, which come by tools, processes that are not efficient and by a new culture of openness and transparency. And this is something we have just started to find out how it works.
You call yourself a (change) facilitator. What does that mean for you, what is the core of your work?
At the core I help organisations and the people within to transition from where they are to a place where collaboration is more effective, meaning a place where people like to do what they do and where organisations take a benefit out of that. I help organisations to be fit for the challenges of the future. The word ‘facilitation’ describes quite well what I do: I am an enabler. I create conducive environments and conditions for people to work together and for organisations to move ahead.
This is the third time you are organising the Berlin Change Days. How has it changed since you started?
Considering the first edition in 2009, which started really small, I am happy to see that we are growing constantly, that we attract people from all over Europe and even the US. It shows us that there is a real demand of people working in different organisations to come together, present and exchange different approaches and experiences from various disciplines and to look at where we stand.
So what do you expect from the Berlin Change Days 2011?
I am very much looking forward to the event in November. The Berlin Change Days are growing, welcoming more participants this year. We have succeeded in attracting speakers with very innovative, state of the art ideas.
Together with Juliane Neumann you will facilitate the post-conference workshop ‘Creating Engaging Spaces for Virtual Collaboration’. Can you tell something about the concept of ‘creating engaging spaces’?
The idea goes back to a research project of Aalto University in Helsinki, which focuses on how the physical environment shapes the way people collaborate with each other. In principle this is nothing new, there has been attempts to change office spaces for the past 20 years in order to make the work of people in offices as effective and efficient as possible. However, few office designers thought about what makes people engaged! Given that we know that the environment and design of meeting places have an impact on the quality of collaboration, we want to go deeper and find out what are the key parameters for effective and engaging virtual spaces. It is an experimental workshop.
What will you do in the workshop, what can people expect?
We will start by exploring physical spaces of collaboration, by going out onto the streets of Berlin. Then we will come back and talk about typical virtual spaces. Once people are aware of the influence of different spaces in the physical world, we can think about what this means for virtual spaces. Juliane and I will talk about our experiences in hosting and facilitating groups in virtual environments. In the second half of the workshop the participants will experiment with their own mobile devices. They will learn how to design and redesign virtual spaces in order to facilitate engagement.
For whom is this workshop interesting?
The workshop would be interesting for people who have started to work in the virtual world, but still need to find their way around. So people who work as managers or facilitators of distributed teams who want to increase the quality of their work.
You have facilitated a ‘creating engaging spaces’ workshop in New York and London. What were your experiences?
It was very exciting and I took a lot of insights from both walks. The latest idea I got from London was that the impact of space is in particular high with newly formed teams, while in teams which have been together for a while, other aspects become more important. As a consequence, this means that organisations should take an effort to do things right from the beginning in order to make virtual teams fly.
Click here to see the documentation of the New York workshop.
How will you make the Berlin Change Days an 'engaging space'?
All our workshops will be interactive and engaging, there won’t be any ‘Death by Powerpoint’. We will make sure that there is a lot of interaction in the breaks. We will also have meta-observers who help us to understand the broader picture.
So the final question: What do you say to people who are still doubting about attending the Berlin Change Days 2011?
You’ll miss a great opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues from all over Europe. You will have to wait for another year to come to the fourth Berlin Change Days. This is the time to come and join us and to contribute with your ideas to the development of our field.
This year we have chosen a new location for the BCD, we are very happy that we are at the GLS Language School in Prenzlauer Berg. For those of you who haven’t been to Berlin before, Prenzlauer Berg is one of the most dynamic, hippest, international parts of the new Berlin. So if you decide to join the conference you will have the opportunity to taste what Berlin is like, go out to the streets, experience the street vibe and understand why Berlin is the city of constant change.
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