Perspectives on TPCL’s ‘Open Space Technology’ event


Last month, to honour our 20th anniversary, we brought together partners, clients and friends for a celebration event with a twist. Rin Hamburgh, founder of copywriting agency Rin Hamburgh & Co, was there. Read on to find out what she thought about the surprise, and hear the reactions she gathered from some of the other participants.

What do you say when one of your favourite clients invites you to a four hour long virtual celebration event – and tells you that the agenda is a surprise? If you’re anything like me – and the client is anything like TPC Leadership – you say yes, of course.

My team and I have been creating content for TPCL for a number of years, and I’ve had the privilege of interviewing founder Charles Brook, global chair Annelieke Jense, and a number of other managing partners for a series of articles in recent months.

Talking to TPCL’s experts is always a delight and the experience never fails to leave both inspired and more well informed than I was before. So not only was I intrigued by the mystery of the 20th anniversary celebrations, I was also keen to meet more of the international TPCL team.

Happy faces from across the globe

The meeting started promptly despite so many different time zones, the Zoom screen filled with smiling faces – clearly everyone else was happy to be here too. There was a real sense of joy and optimism amongst the 80 or so people gathered, which included a number of TPCL’s clients as well as partners.

It was wonderful to see the diversity too, with visitors from more than 20 countries – Brazil, India, Malaysia, Belgium, Netherlands,  the UK, Romania, Germany, Turkey and many more. Later we would be able to talk together in breakout rooms, sharing ideas across the globe. I certainly haven’t attended such an international online gathering before.

After being welcomed by Annelieke, we were handed into the care of Valeria Cardillo Piccolino, associate partner for TPCL Italy, and Laurent Chouraqui, associate partner for TPCL France, who were our hosts for the day.

As they began to explain how the event would run, I felt from them the same sense of genuine warmth and support that I’ve always felt when I’ve had dealings with other TPCL team members. There’s something in this organisation’s DNA that draws a certain special sort of person.

And I wasn’t the only one who felt it. Yusra Soyak, associate partner for TPCL Turkey, later said, “I tremendously enjoyed being in trusted hands and experiencing the care shown to our clients.”

Valeria and Laurent introduced the Open Space Technology approach that the day would follow, a format I hadn’t come across before. The idea of having no set agenda, of co-creating the topics for the breakout rooms ourselves, could have been nerve wracking. But as we listened to the guiding principles of OST, it became clear that the traditional structure of an agenda was being replaced by a structure of empowering principles that placed responsibility firmly but gently on our shoulders.

Permission and empowerment

I loved the “law of two feet” idea, which gave everyone permission to leave a breakout room as soon as they were no longer learning or contributing, without fear of seeming rude. I’m naturally someone who worries about offending, so it was liberating to have the freedom to trust myself and use my virtual feet as I felt led to do.

Likewise, for those putting forward topic ideas, any apprehension about whether or not people would come to their breakout rooms and engage were dispersed by the hosts. Those who come are the right ones, they encouraged us. It starts when it starts, and it finishes when it finishes. There is no right or wrong in the OST space.

“It was very fluid and easy, even with such a large audience,” said Lukas Van Hoerde, an associate for TPCL Germany, after the event. “One of the best group experiences in business life.”

Frederic Lhospied, managing partner for TPCL France, added: “Truly inspiring, led in a smooth, lean and inclusive way by our OST team.”

The discussions themselves were absolutely brilliant. With topics ranging from diversity and inclusion to organisational transformation, and from how to build intimacy with colleagues around the world to how to use Clubhouse to spread the message about coaching, there was something to suit everyone’s interest. And in each room, there was a beautiful demonstration of both knowledge and care, expertise and feeling. Most of all, there was true collaboration.

Zeren Küçükbayındır Nikoliç, another associate partner from Turkey, commented: “I have joined TPCL recently and it was fantastic to build such a quick click with fellow consultants from countries worldwide, thanks to the open space technology. I was positively surprised to have met so many skilful people with whom I share values and interests.”

Building the TPCL family

Four hours on Zoom is a long time but somehow the event was over in a flash. With permission to move freely between rooms, pollinating conversation like virtual bees, we all remained engaged throughout, free to participate in our own ways.

Aldo King, a senior associate consultant at TPCL UK, said: “It was a privilege to participate in the event; to celebrate the achievement and milestone; to be connected to this truly global family of coaches and consultants. I am proud to be part of this inspiring organisation.”

Julie Zhang, from TPCL China, added: “Congratulations TPC Leadership and all the best. A big bravo to the team that organised it. It was a successful event with lots of insights and it was nice that we had the opportunity to be connected with so many associates from all around the world.”

As the event came to a close and we all waved our goodbyes, I felt that I had become a part of the TPCL family. I also felt energised and uplifted rather than exhausted as I normally am by the end of an online session, and full of new ideas to take into my own leadership practice.

Perhaps this comment, made by Ulrich Schlattmann, managing partner for TPCL Germany, a week after the event sums it up best:

“It was really great to see and feel how many wonderful people belong in some way to TPC Leadership. One week later, I still feel energised – both personally and professionally – by this inspiring event full of great exchange across all countries. I am taking with me the positive energy and strong bonds our work is relying on. It would be great to have such an event every year.”

To learn more about how to leverage the potential of OST within your organisation, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

@ TPCL (2021)

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