RED meetings: collectively constructing knowledge
A hectic daily agenda and a permanent flow of information through the computer and the telephone. This is the day to day of the great majority of the employees of any organization.
In this scenario it can be difficult to stop and ponder what is truly happening in our work environment, how we are contributing to strategic objectives or look for opportunities to co-create that may drive innovation in the organization’s processes.
To face such challenges, the City of Knowledge Foundation decided to launch, in early 2015, its RED meetings: a conference inspired by an extended practice in major world organizations -especially in the United States- called Corporate Town Halls.
“The essence of RED is to create a space where employees construct, express their opinions and think about the organization’s strategy, initiatives and projects in a unique way. It is not a meeting to listen to management’s guidelines, rather it is the team itself that creates the content and the knowledge that is shared in these sessions. That is to say, the employees are the main actors,” highlights Carlos Rodríguez, Organizational Development Manager at the City of Knowledge Foundation. According to Carlos, one of the main advantages this method allows is going through a different process of assimilation and development of strategic issues.
During the meetings, presentations are alternated with activities that help employees interact with colleagues who usually work in other buildings on campus and to get to know their projects. Each edition is designed to be different from the other, seeking dynamism and new speakers with each new meeting: “on one occasion, for instance, we carried out a City of Knowledge Rally, which allowed us to learn about innovative projects that were being developed. Another time, through external guests, we discovered the experience of the campus’ users, which in turn helped us value the impact of what we all do at the Foundation,” Carlos explains.
Massiel Abrego, Process Analyst, agrees with Carlos: “meeting all in one place allows us to pause, reconnect with the purpose of the Foundation to generate social change, strengthen the team’s spirit and remember our purpose.” Massiel says the Rally Event “allowed [her] to work as a team with people with whom [she] does not normally collaborate, which was very enlightening and motivating.
RED is held three times a year and each time its objectives and methodology are different, thus allowing to keep a constant interest in the event. At the first RED of the year, employees usually present strategies and main milestones planned for the period; halfway through the year, progress is reviewed, and the last RED has a more festive character, of gratitude and recognition.
A few months ago, for example, the theme of RED revolved around the celebration of the 20 years of the City of Knowledge. In this edition, a conversation was held in which historical anecdotes were shared, even from before the military base was transferred. In addition, there was a historical walk-through by quinquennia, those members who are no longer with us were remembered, and future projects were announced.
Sherly Bultron, Project Manager of the Foundation, recognizes that her first RED was a special moment. “It was a great experience to participate in RED at the beginning of the year as I had the opportunity to present myself to the team and to understand the Foundation’s interest in integrating all of its employees with the organization’s processes.”
The initiative’s name refers to the type of team work the Foundation promotes. That is to say, although the City of Knowledge organization is structured by departments, a vision of collaboration and integration has been developed to breaks down traditional barriers seeking to generate a network that focuses on meeting strategic guidelines. All RED meetings are celebrated within this framework: teams of employees from different departments come together to show their main projects, progress and results: “I have actively participated in RED as a host, in the games and in presenting the projects’ achievements. All these activities have been very helpful in the integration between all areas of work,” says Anagabriel Quiroga, a member of the Architecture and Urbanism department.
According to Carlos’ experience, organizing a RED is always a challenge because it requires creativity and coordination in order to achieve the expected results. “However, we know that this strategy works because it helps us guarantee the Strategic Integration of our employees, improve teamwork and give visibility to our mission,” he concludes.