Designing the OneTeamGov Global Participant Experience

Emma-Rose Beauchamp
Mar 5 · 3 min read
John Kenney and Joël Bourgeoys in NRCan’s new collaborative space.

As you have hopefully already heard, the second OneTeamGov global unconference is taking place this May 2019 in Victoria, British Columbia. With only 11 weeks until the event, volunteer organizers are doing their best to get everything ready. Two of those volunteers are John Kenney and Joël Bourgeoys who are in charge of the participant experience. They sat down with me to discuss the work they have been working on and their goals for the event.

“I don’t want people to underestimate what they can do,” John said concerning his hopes for the effect that the event has on participants. “I want to encourage more participation and encourage people to see that even small changes matter.” Joël echoed this sentiment adding that he hopes to “give people the space to discuss what changes are needed. Ultimately, I hope that we can give them what London gave to us, which was much deeper engagement in our work.”

John and Joël both attended the 2018 global unconference in London, England, where Kit Collingwood presented on the OneTeamGov mission. Afterwards, they were both inspired to participate more in the future of OneTeamGov. “We think these principles are really important in the technology age,” John said “and we saw where we could contribute our experience.” John and Joël bring different skills to the table, but together they are working on the whole experience lifecycle from how people will be welcomed to how they will be sent off. They hope that the event inspires action and change the same way it did for them.

As someone who did not attend the London unconference, I was curious about how this event would be different from other professional seminars I have attended. What could new participants expect leading up to this unconventional event?

Joël explained that “unlike other conferences, where the agenda is set beforehand and the participants are told what they will be learning, the power is with the people in the room that day.”

At last year’s event, the day started with everyone writing their biggest, boldest idea on an index card, and then passing it on to the person next to them. They would in turn receive a new idea from someone else. With a partner, each participant pitches their newly received ideas and rates them from one to five before passing the idea on again. This process is repeated 5 times, and then the ideas with the highest scores out of 25 become the topics of the facilitated discussions for the day. This method creates roughly 30 sessions that participants can choose to attend, with as many as six happening in parallel. Although they haven’t formally decided to use this method for the upcoming Victoria event, Joël told me that they “are currently exploring the possibility of using this option again.”

When asked about the reasoning for potentially not using this method, John mentioned that bilingualism posed a potential problem. “We don’t want any good ideas to be passed because someone did not understand what was written. We will need to use creativity to address this challenge.” Further, when discussing the importance that the event be enjoyable for anyone who would like to attend, John noted that “our priority is making sure that everything that day is accessible and equitable.”

Challenges aside, I asked John and Joël what they were most looking forward to, and I think they speak for most of us with their answers.

Joël: “It is always about meeting new people for me.”

John: “I’m excited to see who will be there and what the energy of the room will be.”

The OneTeamGov Global Unconference is happening on May 21st 2019 in Victoria BC. Join 500 of our global neighbours for a day of informative seminars and inspiring conversation. Ticket applications are now open! You can also find more information on the global unconference on our website.