Solution Room

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Identification
Alternative names: 
The Solution Room
Keywords: 
Level of process: 
Application
Method
Intervention
Delivery: 
Intent or purpose: 
The Solution Room is a closing session format designed to action the learning at the end of a conference or workshop. If you would change only one thing at your next conference, this could be it. Although it is a participant led format, it is strictly protocoled and facilitated to encourage maximal peer-to-peer coaching and peer learning. It is a highly immersive and interactive experience. Not more content at the end of the conference but a synthesis and activation of what has been learned at the conference. The format is a highly unusual experience where all participants are brought out of their comfort zones and guaranteed energised and excited at the end to activate their learning once they get back to their workplace or personal lives.
Recommended size of group: 
11-25
26-50
51-100
101-500
500+
Remarks about group size: 
can be scaled up in groups of 8. Recommend per 200 participants one experienced Solution Room Facilitator
Optimal amount of time needed: 
90 Minutes
Howto
Video: 
Attendees The Solution Room is an active way to close a conference as a general session where all participants are prompted to consider their actions as a result of having attended the conference coming to a conclusion. Participants are immersed in an experience and consult and be consulted in peer groups of 8 randomised participants. The minimum number of participants is 16 (2 tables of 8) but can be scaled up to thousands of participants providing there is enough space for them to be seated at tables of 8 and enough space for a human spectrograph (body voting) in the back of the room. It is also imperative that everyone in the Solution Room session participates. This session is not for “spectators” but only for participants in the Solution Room. Participants are all equally brought out of their comfort zone and go through an immersive experience. Time 90 minutes at the very end of the program. This should be programmed as a last item on the agenda. It does have a strictly protocoled moderation script which is linear with a clear beginning, a middle and an end. Every participant gets 8 Minutes of peer consulting from 7 peers. The duration of The Solution Room can be extended beyond 90 minutes to increase the consulting time per person. Basic timing = 5 minute introduction, 20 minutes human spectrographs + issue formulation, 5 minute randomised seating; 8 consultation rounds of 7 minutes per round (=54 minutes); 20 minutes closing human spectrographs + 5 minute Solution Room output consolidation + 5 minute closing. Tools The Solution Room is a participant driven session. It does have a strictly protocoled moderation script which is linear with a clear beginning, a middle and an end. The Solution setup is round tables with exactly 8 chairs per table. The tables are to be covered with paper table cloth (or butcher paper) so that the tables are fully covered with one large piece of paper. On the tables should be nothing except at least one coloured marker pen (8 thick colourful flip chart markers are best). There should be an equal number of chairs (8 per table) as participants in the Solution Room session. Besides the table setup with 8 chairs per round table, the Solution Room requires a free space for a human spectrograph. Count approximately 0.8 to 1 square meter per person of space. The space should enable the group of people to disperse over a line up preferably in the back of front of the function space. AV is needed: each moderator(s) should avail of wireless microphones connected to a Public Announcement (PA) sound system. Additionally upon the start of the session a video should be played to bring the participants into the Solution Room atmosphere. This video is best projected from a laptop computer with sound connection to the PA system and a projector with a screen (or multiple screens if the amount of participants grows to hundreds). The video and slide deck to be used is available on the website http://www.solutionroom.info Techniques A process moderator trained in delivering the Solution Room format is required per 200 participants. The process moderator (who also functions as the host) should be experienced in facilitating large group processes and be able to “motivate” the group to go through the 90 minute process diligently. The moderator should have previously participated in a Solution Room to be able to “have lived the experience” of being in a Solution Room peer led consulting experience and be coached by Mike van de Vijver or Ruud Janssen (the creators of the format). The contact details of the creators and a list of experienced moderators in the format can be found on the website http://www.solutionroom.info Objectives The goal of the Solution Room is to activate one action per participant in the closing session of the conference prior to leaving the conference. The basic rules of play in the Solution Room are : 1) Choose an issue you want to translate into a personal objective, related to your learnings from this conference; 2) Give up this issue for adoption to a group of peers; 3) Get consultation time from the peers around your table: so use the time (8 minutes for each individual) your issue receives to get as much input as you can get; 4) no soft talk but hard talk; 5) the more you invest, the higher your return. Explain that this version of Solution Room has taken in comments from previous participants to make it more effective. Learning: Introspection during one minute in the second human spectrograph where one action is selected in silence. That action is then addressed by 7 peers in a structured peer consultation round. 
Networking: The small group of 7 peers consulting you allows for close and intense conversation and consultation between participants. The human spectrogram used to identify years of experience, the level out “out of comfort zone” and the final question lead to an intense social experience for the full group immersed in the Solution Room. Motivational: One’s personal action or issue is being addressed by 7 peers and your topic is given up for adoption to your neighbour. That makes for a very intense motivational experience where the peers at the Solution Room table have a confidential in depth conversation that motivated the individual to action the issue addressed. 
Output: At the end of the peer consultation every participant is requested to return to the position in the human spectrogram is repeated and participants are asked to move to a position in the lineup. This demonstrates the change that has occurred and is followed up by the question: “How many in depth conversations did you have with fellow participants that you otherwise wouldn’t have had at the end of the conference?”. Additionally the mind map notes on the table are rich input for the participants on their peer’s advice and is often photographed or even ripped up and taken “home” as a physical reminder. Movement Before and after the consultation rounds by 7 peers to the identified problem, the full group moves into the Human Spectrogram. The same is done at the end of the session to visualise the change that has occurred. This is a powerful mechanism to shift the behaviour and start the actioning process post event. Interaction Because of the group size, the interactivity occurs naturally. The interaction at the individual tables takes place in a “circle of confidence”. The 8 peers share a unique experience within the larger setting of the full solution room. Because of the ‘tightness’ of the format, the exchange of contact details (usually spontaneous) and in depth conversation to solve the issues becomes an obvious and natural thing to do. Change After the initial human spectrograms, participants are randomly assigned a seat at one of the rounds of 8. Each person writes their “issue” on the paper table cloth in front of them. (3 minutes) Participants put a circle around their issue when they have finished writing it down (can be a statement, sentence or a visual). When everyone has done that, the facilitator asks everyone to stand up and move one seat clockwise. This is done only once at the beginning of the peer consultation round. Each table identifies who starts the first round of consultation. The person that starts reads out loud or interprets the issue in from of them (which was originally written down by their neighbour to their direct left. ) Encourage open questions to explore the issue and the 7 peers at the table help come up with solutions in the 7 minute consultation round. When the 7 minutes are up, the facilitator stops the peer consultation round briefly (ask participants to raise both hands for instance to stop them from talking). Subsequently the next issue is addressed by the person that was just consulted. This is repeated for 8 rounds after which the human spectrogram is repeated at the end of the session. Space The Solution Room needs space to do a human spectrogram along one of the walls (suggested space = 0.5 m2 per person . The Solution Room should be setup up in a well spaced setup of large banquet rounds with 8 chairs per table around the full table. On the table place butcher paper to cover the full table. (butcher paper is like paper table cloth to cover the full table on which participants can write). Per table put 10 permanent markers (Sharpie, Pentel Pen or Steadler type felt tip pens in multiple colours minimum 10 pens per table).
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
Very high energy, Sometimes I encourage the Group to do a Jump in the final Human Spectrogram to release the additional energy and makes for a great Group Photo!
Level of participation: 
The Solution Room is an active way to close a conference as a general session where all participants are prompted to consider their actions as a result of having attended the conference coming to a conclusion. Participants are immersed in an experience and consult and be consulted in peer groups of 8 randomised participants. The minimum number of participants is 16 (2 tables of 8) but can be scaled up to thousands of participants providing there is enough space for them to be seated at tables of 8 and enough space for a human spectrograph (body voting) in the back of the room. It is also imperative that everyone in the Solution Room session participates. This session is not for “spectators” but only for participants in the Solution Room. Participants are all equally brought out of their comfort zone and go through an immersive experience.
Ideal Conditions: 
90 minutes at the very end of the program. This should be programmed as a last item on the agenda. It does have a strictly protocoled moderation script which is linear with a clear beginning, a middle and an end. Every participant gets 8 Minutes of peer consulting from 7 peers. The duration of The Solution Room can be extended beyond 90 minutes to increase the consulting time per person. Basic timing = 5 minute introduction, 20 minutes human spectrographs + issue formulation, 5 minute randomised seating; 8 consultation rounds of 7 minutes per round (=54 minutes); 20 minutes closing human spectrographs + 5 minute Solution Room output consolidation + 5 minute closing.
Potential Pitfalls: 
Stick to the process strictly and sticking to the timing is equally critical
How is success evaluated: 
Final Human Spectrograph shows the actual learning and resolve to take action. This can be captured by film or photo. Additionally the personal actions and behaviour change outcomes are notes on the paper table cloths and are perfect inputs for the design of a next conference.
Examples of successes and failures: 
MPI Meeting Professionals International - (European Meetings & Events Conference ) EMEC 2011 Dusseldorf, EMEC 2012 Budapest , World Education Congress (WEC) 2012, Orlando, FL, USA, Chapter Business Summit Dallas, TX 2012, MPI BE conference Jan 2013 Brussels, Belgium, EMEC 2013 Montreux, Switzerland, MPI iConnect 2014 MPI Minnesota Chapter, Minneapolis, MN, USA. http://www.mpiweb.org/Search_GCS?q=Solution+Room Internet Society - Durban, South Africa 11 July 2012 & Bali, Indonesia 20 October 2013, Istanbul 19 & 20 May 2014 http://www.internetsociety.org/who-we-are/mission Internet Governance Forum IGF - United Nations mandated Forum - Multi Stakeholder Capacity Building Workshop Bali, Indonesia, 21 October 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Governance_Forum
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
High level of trust in the process for the facilitator (best to do one with an experienced facilitator a couple of times). High level of trust by client to allow a 90 minute closing session without keynote but where the participants do the actual heavy lifting by coaching each other in a systematic way.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Specialized skills required
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
Needs a charismatic facilitator who is comfortable in front of hundreds of people and comfortable to sequentially deliver this Solution Room Process.
Setting and Materials: 
The Solution Room is a participant driven session. It does have a strictly protocoled moderation script which is linear with a clear beginning, a middle and an end. The Solution setup is round tables with exactly 8 chairs per table. The tables are to be covered with paper table cloth (or butcher paper) so that the tables are fully covered with one large piece of paper. On the tables should be nothing except at least one coloured marker pen (8 thick colourful flip chart markers are best). There should be an equal number of chairs (8 per table) as participants in the Solution Room session. Besides the table setup with 8 chairs per round table, the Solution Room requires a free space for a human spectrograph. Count approximately 0.8 to 1 square meter per person of space. The space should enable the group of people to disperse over a line up preferably in the back of front of the function space. AV is needed: each moderator(s) should avail of wireless microphones connected to a Public Announcement (PA) sound system. Additionally upon the start of the session a video should be played to bring the participants into the Solution Room atmosphere. This video is best projected from a laptop computer with sound connection to the PA system and a projector with a screen (or multiple screens if the amount of participants grows to hundreds). The video and slide deck to be used is available on the website http://www.solutionroom.info Techniques A process moderator trained in delivering the Solution Room format is required per 200 participants. The process moderator (who also functions as the host) should be experienced in facilitating large group processes and be able to “motivate” the group to go through the 90 minute process diligently. The moderator should have previously participated in a Solution Room to be able to “have lived the experience” of being in a Solution Room peer led consulting experience and be coached by Mike van de Vijver or Ruud Janssen (the creators of the format). The contact details of the creators and a list of experienced moderators in the format can be found on the website http://www.solutionroom.info
Resources Needed: 
The Solution Room needs space to do a human spectrogram along one of the walls (suggested space = 0.5 m2 per person . The Solution Room should be setup up in a well spaced setup of large banquet rounds with 8 chairs per table around the full table. On the table place butcher paper to cover the full table. (butcher paper is like paper table cloth to cover the full table on which participants can write). Per table put 10 permanent markers (Sharpie, Pentel Pen or Steadler type felt tip pens in multiple colours minimum 10 pens per table).
Procedures: 

The goal of the Solution Room is to activate one action per participant in the closing session of the conference prior to leaving the conference. The basic rules of play in the Solution Room are : 1) Choose an issue you want to translate into a personal objective, related to your learnings from this conference; 2) Give up this issue for adoption to a group of peers; 3) Get consultation time from the peers around your table: so use the time (8 minutes for each individual) your issue receives to get as much input as you can get; 4) no soft talk but hard talk; 5) the more you invest, the higher your return. Explain that this version of Solution Room has taken in comments from previous participants to make it more effective.
Learning: Introspection during one minute in the second human spectrograph where one action is selected in silence. That action is then addressed by 7 peers in a structured peer consultation round. 
Networking: The small group of 7 peers consulting you allows for close and intense conversation and consultation between participants. The human spectrogram used to identify years of experience, the level out “out of comfort zone” and the final question lead to an intense social experience for the full group immersed in the Solution Room.
Motivational: One’s personal action or issue is being addressed by 7 peers and your topic is given up for adoption to your neighbour. That makes for a very intense motivational experience where the peers at the Solution Room table have a confidential in depth conversation that motivated the individual to action the issue addressed. 
Output: At the end of the peer consultation every participant is requested to return to the position in the human spectrogram is repeated and participants are asked to move to a position in the lineup. This demonstrates the change that has occurred and is followed up by the question: “How many in depth conversations did you have with fellow participants that you otherwise wouldn’t have had at the end of the conference?”. Additionally the mind map notes on the table are rich input for the participants on their peer’s advice and is often photographed or even ripped up and taken “home” as a physical reminder.

Movement
Before and after the consultation rounds by 7 peers to the identified problem, the full group moves into the Human Spectrogram. The same is done at the end of the session to visualise the change that has occurred. This is a powerful mechanism to shift the behaviour and start the actioning process post event.

Interaction
Because of the group size, the interactivity occurs naturally. The interaction at the individual tables takes place in a “circle of confidence”. The 8 peers share a unique experience within the larger setting of the full solution room. Because of the ‘tightness’ of the format, the exchange of contact details (usually spontaneous) and in depth conversation to solve the issues becomes an obvious and natural thing to do.
Change
After the initial human spectrograms, participants are randomly assigned a seat at one of the rounds of 8. Each person writes their “issue” on the paper table cloth in front of them. (3 minutes) Participants put a circle around their issue when they have finished writing it down (can be a statement, sentence or a visual). When everyone has done that, the facilitator asks everyone to stand up and move one seat clockwise. This is done only once at the beginning of the peer consultation round. Each table identifies who starts the first round of consultation. The person that starts reads out loud or interprets the issue in from of them (which was originally written down by their neighbour to their direct left. ) Encourage open questions to explore the issue and the 7 peers at the table help come up with solutions in the 7 minute consultation round. When the 7 minutes are up, the facilitator stops the peer consultation round briefly (ask participants to raise both hands for instance to stop them from talking). Subsequently the next issue is addressed by the person that was just consulted. This is repeated for 8 rounds after which the human spectrogram is repeated at the end of the session.

How flexible is the process?: 
The Solution Room is not dependent on subject and can be applied as a closing session (providing it is a plenary session.
Follow-Up Required: 
At the end of the peer consultation every participant is requested to return to the position in the human spectrogram is repeated and participants are asked to move to a position in the lineup. This demonstrates the change that has occurred and is followed up by the question: “How many in depth conversations did you have with fellow participants that you otherwise wouldn’t have had at the end of the conference?”. Additionally the mind map notes on the table are rich input for the participants on their peer’s advice and is often photographed or even ripped up and taken “home” as a physical reminder. Often before the closing linuep we ask the participants to write up a self addressed postcard with action to self. This postcard is then mailed to their postal address 8 weeks after "The Solution Room" .
Background
Developer: 
Ruud Janssen, Mike Van der Vijver
Derived from: 
"The Solution Room" by Ruud Janssen (www.TNOC.org) + Mike van der Vijver (MindMeeting) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.solutionroom.info . Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.solutionroom.info. Photos & video courtesy of http://www.TNOC.org
History of Development: 

The Solution Room format originated in an experiment at the European Meetings & Events Conference organised by Meeting Professionals International in Dusseldorf, Germany. Leave 90 minutes of white space at the end of a 3 day conference for participants to literally activate their learning. The original idea for the format was sparked by Ruud Janssen, CMM of TNOC | The New Objective Collective in Switzerland www.tnoc.ch ) who together with Mike van der Vijver (MindMeeting http://www.mindmeeting.com ) led the experiment onsite to great acclaim of other faculty members, speakers and most of all the participants. You can see the video footage and a mindmap of the first design here: www.solutionroom.info

The Solution Room has subsequently been tested and iterated to be refined to what is today. Organisers interested in using the format are encouraged to register their session on the website www.solutionroom.info to log their session, download the required materials and obtain more specific consultation from Ruud Janssen or Mike van der Vijver. The platform then allows for sharing experiences and creating a world map of where the Solution has been hosted. In return the creators ask for a brief testimonial and a photo of the session + link to the website of the conference or workshop.

We are delighted to see raving reviews from participants in many fields of expertise using this format to activate the learning from conferences and convert peer consulting power into a valuable connector and motivator to tackle issues and personal actions that create value for events.

A most engaging closing session format with possible extensions into earlier parts of the conference or online sessions to engage solution room participants before and after the conference online.

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Licensed
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