The Solution Room—a powerful conference session

There’s been a lot of interest in The Solution Room, a session that I co-facilitated last July at Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Orlando, Florida. It is one of the most popular sessions I’ve been asked to facilitate at conferences this year. So here’s some information about the session…oh, and don’t miss the two-minute video of participant testimonials at the end of this post!

Ruud Janssen explains that the original concept was co-created onsite at Meeting Professionals International’s 2011 European Meetings & Events Conference by Linda PereiraMiranda IoannouMidori ConnollyRobert BenningaMike van der VijverSimon Bucknall, David Bancroft Turner, and Ruud himself. Ruud produced a short video of the original session, as well as a longer video of participant testimonials.

Minimum resources

  • Enough round tables seating 6-8 people for every participant to have a seat.
  • Flip chart paper that completely covers the tables, a plenty of colored markers at each table
  • Sufficient clear space in the room to hold a one-dimensional human spectrogram for all participants

Brief description
The Solution Room is a powerful conference session, typically lasting between 90-120 minutes, which not only engages and connects attendees, but also provides peer-supported advice on their most pressing problems. A session of 20 or more people (the format can handle hundreds of participants) starts with a short introduction followed by a human spectrogram that demonstrates the amount of experience available in the room. Next, participants are given some time to think of a problem or challenge they have for which they would like to receive peer advice. A second human spectrogram follows which maps participants’ comfort level.

Participants are now divided into small groups of 6-8 people, each group sharing a round table covered with flip chart paper and plenty of colored markers. The group members are then asked to individually mindmap their problem on the paper in front of them. Each participant in turn then has the same amount of time to explain his or her problem or challenge to the others at the table and receive advice and support.

For a public group evaluation, two final human spectrograms map the shift in comfort level of all the participants and the likelihood that participants will try to change what they’ve just shared.

A two-minute video of testimonials from my Solution Room session at the 2011 Meeting Professionals International World Education Conference in Orlando, Florida

Photo attribution: Flickr user tnoc