The Why, What, How behind the OneTeamGov in Wales unconference

The Why — the challenge…

So it’s been 9 weeks since a group of strangers first met up to discuss One Team Gov In Wales. It’s hard to believe how much we’ve achieved in a short space of time.

In our first couple of meetups we decided to focus on organising a big event to kick-start things. We chose to apply the unconference format as a way to really build the kind of relationships necessary for effective collaboration, and spread the word amongst colleagues and wider. We were ambitious with our timescales for an event and agreed we could pull off an unconference on 22 January. What we hadn’t factored in was the Christmas break, but that hasn’t stopped us.

We released our first batch of tickets on 12 December, and were amazed to see these sell out within a day. We’ve since released more tickets and in just 5 days (who’s counting?!) we’ll be welcoming 100+ people to Techniquest, Cardiff to discuss all things relating to One Team Gov.

The What — what is an unconference?

An unconference is an event where there is no fixed agenda until the participants create it on the day, and nobody gives a presentation — it’s all about the conversations. This unleashes innovative ideas and attendees are empowered to share their expertise.

What to expect at the unconference — Stacey-Jo Smith

The How — how have we done this?

Organising an unconference is a community effort. We have a core team of organisers, providing diversity of perspective, who have been meeting just once a week. Sometimes we’re all in the same room but often we meet via video conference. In between this, we use Trello and Slack to update each other.

One of our meetups spread across 5 different locations

This small, cross-functional team have organised everything from booking the venue and catering, to translating web content into Welsh and setting up the ticketing system. We also have a wider team of enthusiastic volunteers who will be there to make sure the event runs smoothly, help people get the best out of it and take away micro-actions. In short, without these volunteers we wouldn’t have an event.

There have been times when the planning of this event has been quite overwhelming, but at our last meetup it was fantastic to reflect and see how much stuff we’ve moved from “to do” to “done”. We’ve even managed to hold one of our meetups at Techniquest to familiarise ourselves with the venue.

The Future — why micro-actions are so important

It’s not all about the event on 22 January. This will be a great day to bring people together and have good conversations, but it’s more than that. The value of people spontaneously crossing paths creates the opportunity for emergent possibilities and collaborative action. I keep telling people about Kit’s “Be the change you want to see: micro-actions for reform” blog post — as well as managing to weave song lyrics into her story, Kit really helpfully suggests a load of micro-actions that anyone can do.

I’ve been holding myself to account on these and making small changes every day, including:

  • Setting up One Team Gov meetups in Wales where I’ve already met lovely new people who are equally excited about making a change
  • Visiting other teams and attending their team meetings to spread the One Team Gov love (one particular highlight was someone from policy telling her team about how the unconference would work “we want more of a conversation than a lecture” — YES!)
  • Inviting other teams and departments to our team meeting to share different ways of working
  • Getting to grips with new tools to help me do my job better
  • Writing my first blog post.

While organising the event and spreading the word about One Team Gov, we keep reminding each other that “doing is better than perfect”.

Stickers showing “Doing is better than perfect” and “Don’t give up”

The Takeaway — what can you do?

If you’re interested in getting involved, grab one of the few remaining tickets now.

Read Toby’s blog post about how to pitch your idea on the day.

Also, join the #OneTeamGov online community:

we’re holding weekly meetups every Wednesday at 4:30pm, in Companies House, Cardiff. Please come along or set up your own meetups in your area.