Presenters: Emmanuel Gaillot & Bernard Notarianni

Objectives of the session :

During the session, participants will have the opportunity to

  • learn techniques that allow to get a better grasp at a group's potential, and to individually use it more efficiently
  • practice with communication tools they'll be able to reuse immediately in other contexts
  • think about how to contribute to increase the value of a conference
  • have fun and meet other people sharing analog interests
Intended audience and prerequisites:

Anyone interested in learning through experimentation how they can get more results from their teamwork is welcome to attend. Any level and background is ok.

The session needs at least 5 attendees and scales well up to 50.


A drama in a developers' team. Two experienced programmers violently argue about which design choice will satisfy best the customers' requirements they have to implement. Three others, slightly taken aback, wonder about whom they should side for. One of them thinks, maybe it's the right time to suggest rewriting the whole thing, in a programming language she likes particularly. Intervenes the team's manager. He brutally settles the case — because "we have to keep moving forward" — along an orientation that suits no one.

Group work is often the stage of negotiations of territory : a compromise with the others, a compromise with one self. "Am I cut out for it? Do I have my place here? How to contribute? Will I manage to impose my ideas?," one may think. If several team members follow this mindset, there is soon a deluge of ideas and information, many mutually contradictory, unexploited due to lack of time, everyone waiting for the moment they'll be able to offer "their" contribution, oblivious to others. Here lies a paradox: even when we (think we) know what the group needs, saying it may hinder the group in its finding answers.

As members of various groups — agile teams, family, business companies… — we can do better.

This session explores an alternative to "information push:" to seek in others with a curious mind the stories and ideas they might have, and to combine them with what has already be shared. This benevolent, attentive listening, this non-judgmental investigation helps to embrace ideas that surround us, and to meet more efficiently the whole group's expectations.

We'll experiment with several tools that help adopting an active listener posture — namely: Marvin Harris's emic approach, Tadashi Suzuki's Soft Focus and Jim & Michele McCarthy's Investigate protocol, taken from their Core Protocol. We'll discuss together the discoveries we'll have made along the session.

Format and length: Tutorial, 120 minutes. This is a fast-paced, hands-on, experiential session.