• wellenschlagen


Updated: Apr 3, 2020

Written by Elena

In the sommer semester 2019 I joined the seminar „Building sustainable communities“.

During this seminar we had the chance to join the netzwerk n workshop as an opportunity to improve our team building skills and get a better overview about group dynamics and work methods. The workshop took place at the Alte Muh so we had a perfect setting to get together as a group and create something new.

Day one

We started the workshop with an introduction. After everyone had introduced themselves, we got a quick overview of what we are going to do during the weekend workshop and called it 'off the beaten track'. To get an impression of what to expect from participating, we started with a new method. With the Expectation Lawn, everyone got the chance to communicate their fears, contributions and expectations they had for this workshop.  

Afterwards, our coach Nele went through the daily agenda and we got to know the little hat shop. Every participant was in charge of something. For example, the method hub was in charge of collecting all the methods and had to make a poster at the end of the day to get an overview of what we had done that day. Another 'job' was called the magic lamp. We also set up some communication rules and hand signs to use the time we had as efficiently as possible. We also talked about how to give constructive feedback so that we can all improve ourselves better. 

To get to know each other a bit better, we were asked some questions about ourselves and our past experiences with sustainability. These questions have not been answered by words, but by positioning ourselves in different parts of the room. Each part had a different meaning, for example, the left side of the room meant ‘no experience with sustainability at all’ and the right side meant ‘you were kind of an expert’. To create a picture where everyone fits in, it was important to act in a group and recognize the answers of the other participants.

After we learned a bit more about the experiences with sustainability and knowledge the other participants have already made, we separated into two groups. One group called ‘oldies’ included the participants who had already started an initiative in the past and the other group called ‘youngsters’ were joined by the others. 

The oldies shared their experiences with the youngsters in the form of an interview. We talked about challenges, priorities, management and motivation. The last point on our agenda was a dream journey. At this point Lilith, the second coach, joined us who had just arrived from Berlin. The setting for the dream journey was our campus and we should imagine how it could look like and how the living part of the university could be.

It was really interesting to see that all our visions were going in the same direction. We all dreamed about a green campus with edible plants, relaxed people with a smile on their face being deep in conversations. And not only students talking to students, but all the members of the life on campus were included. For example, professors talking to staff members and students talking to janitors. The lectures were more like interactive workshops with a smaller group of people and avoiding the top down teaching method. Some of us also dreamed a bit more in detail. 

With the dream journey, we got a first view about how our university could look like in the future. 

Together we dreamed during the joint dinner. Again thanks to Simha and Imke who brought the food. Throughout the dinner, we had a lot of fun but also some deep conversations and lively discussions. After cleaning up all together, we were tired but looking forward to the next day.

Day two

We started the next meeting with a joint breakfast. After we defeated the hunger, we began to work on getting more clear about our aims. Therefore, everyone had to write down some projects they were thinking of while having the dream journey in mind. After a short time of thinking, everyone presented their ideas and we collected them in the middle of our circle. To summarise them, we discussed headlines in which all the goals fitted in. This method is called goal flower. Our headlines were: Connect, Integrate, Gardening, Projects and Space. 

Later on that day, we discussed our goals in more detail but before we talked a bit about competencies. To think about ourselves and what we personally want to achieve, we had to draw our individual competency figure. Some of the body parts had some special meanings. The head stood for our knowledge and interests. The mouth was in charge of our soft skills and the hand stood for our hands-on competences. For ‘what our heart is beating for’ is of course right by the heart. 

For the two legs, one is going forward and one is falling behind. The one behind stands for what attributes we want to leave behind and the one going forward represents our goals. So what we really want to achieve. After sharing our competencies figure with another person we quickly gave feedback of what was difficult and what was easy for us by doing this task. 

To get a bit more precise about our goals the coaches showed us the ‘smart’ method. 

When you formulate a goal you have to ask yourself five questions. 

Is it...Specific ?

        ..Measurable ?

      ..Attractive ?

    ..Realisable ?

         ..Terminated ?

To improve our aims we adapted this method to our goals. Therefore, we split up into two groups and each group discussed two or three of our aims. After presenting our results we had more structured goals and a better picture of how we can achieve them. 

For a more structured communication on such projects, we got introduced to the ‘platform n’ and the ‘netzwerk n’. These are websites to connect students and inform them about running projects. It is also a tool to facilitate internal and external group communications. 

To get an impression of what projects are already running well in other universities we got some examples of 'good practices'. 

Each person got a different one and should prepare an elevator pitch. It's a method where you imagine you meet a person and you want to convince him or her of your project in an elevator and you only have about one minute until the elevator reaches the destination. 

Each person got constructive feedback and the next point on our daily agenda was the Fun-importance-matrix. 

It's a sampling method to focus on the main important projects. Therefore the projects were listed on the left and the divided criterias the group discussed before were on top. Ours have been deep leverage, funny, visibility and realisable.

Each member of the group had 8 signs to put on the matrix. 

After everyone finished, we counted out how many signs which project got and intensified four of them. The winners were the Green Office, the sustainable integration week, the seedbeds and the science bar hopping. To intensify these projects, we again separated into two groups and discussed how we can realise them. 

Later during this task, we all got pretty caught by the idea of starting something coming out of this weekend. We closed the session again with a joint dinner and a lot of fun. Although we were all tired, we somehow found the energy to dance and sing and laugh a lot together. We got the feeling that this could be the beginning of something actually 'making waves'. 

Day three

On the last day of our workshop, we were all looking forward to what is coming next. But first breakfast. Food plays an important role in our group. And before we started to discuss the 'Follow Up' we made a stakeholder analysis to get a more structured overview. We also tried to get a feeling for how supportive the different stakeholders could be and with whom we should be more careful. 

After that, we got more into details of what is following after this weekend. In the same groups as the previous day, we made a mind map of the next steps and also tried to start a timetable. During this, we briefly talked about the ‘perspektive n’ coming up in September in Kiel. As we all sat together and presented our results, we also talked about different roles our starting initiative could play on that day. To get an overview of how these ‘perspektive n’ events are, Nele showed us some videos from previous meetings. 

We were all glad that we joined this weekend. We got a more concrete view of what we want to achieve and how we want to do that. We had two amazing coaches who got a very good feeling for our group atmosphere and motivated us from time to time with a little warm up or some motivating speeches. I am sure that each of us has taken a lot out of this weekend and although we know it will be a lot of work, we are looking forward to the next steps to 'make waves'.