It strikes me as particularly fitting that the organizers chose Ile La Reunion (reunion is actually “meeting” in French) for a big conference that is being held this week on the topic of the European Overseas Territory islands and climate change adaptation. This beautiful volcanic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is as far away from Brussels as you can get (at least contextually if not geographically-it is delightful to see the Brussels-based diplomatic crew in flipflops).
With 586 people descending on the island from all parts of the world, this is turning into a very large gathering of incredibly passionate opionions and a diversity of perspectives. As a result, this week might serve as a not-so-dry run for our upcoming Congress in October and produce some good learning for the most process aware. This could however be a luxury that only I will have, as this meeting has many of the same hallmarks as our Congress – most notably a small organising team made of primarily of content experts who have also been given the task to make it happen (from stuffing the conference bags to delivering one of the keynote speeches). It can be an incredible team building exercise which lets people step out of daily roles and showcase their abilities to stretch into new situations; it can also create situations where the transferability of competencies to different and completely new tasks is not so easy or obvious. The reactions will be very individual and can provide an amazing laboratory for the conscient manager.
Ostensibly I am here in La Reunion to work with the coordinators of a set of 11 workshops on the results-orientation of their workshop designs, and to help deliver a few of these with a second, Mauritian, facilitator. And I am not sure I can resist shining the spotlight from time to time on our overall process here, and what the delivery team is learning. We will see what the appetite is for this simultaneous task and team maintenance conversation. It may also help identify some strategic interventions for more individual and institutional capacity building around these critical convening skills and collaborative processes.
With hundreds of people coming from all parts of the world, from the largest European bureaucracies, and the smallest island administrations, from local civil society to official representatives of the United Nations, La Reunion will no doubt be a creative collision space, both for the participants, and for us.