Randomised Coffee Trials (RCTS) are a way of connecting people in an organization at random to give them time to meet to have a coffee and talk about whatever they wish.
They are a simple, low-cost means of enabling people to talk with others who they might not otherwise meet. They allow people to learn from each other, build relationships, break down organizational silos and build community.
The Red Cross Red Crescent have been one of the pioneers to implement them to connect their volunteers around the world, once a month to have a “virtual coffee” via Skype.
This report from Shaun Hazeldine describes their experience with them in connecting over 600 people from around the globe to have regular “virtual coffee meetings” with each other once a month.
The bottom line: “people loved them.”
In the Red Cross Red Crescent, the RCTs were implemented as a component of a broader Learning andEngagement Plan for Volunteering Development.
A core principle underpinning this plan has been to create spaces (both physical and otherwise) where people could come together and talk, learn from each other and collaborate on solutions and innovation.
The plan focuses on conversation as an underestimated tool for learning.
A number of similar ‘conversational approaches to learning’ have also been implemented alongside the RCTs in the Learning and Engagement Plan.
Here is some early feedback from the Red Cross Red Crescent trials:
- I came to know that in Austria students are teaching the way of building disaster shelters as well as awareness in hygiene promotion and disaster where in my country it’s such a technical session we have not introduced in schools. But I realized this is a very good practice, and of course I will introduce it here in Bangladesh also.
- It was a great experience, and I think we definitely will connect again! We also exchanged email IDs to keep each other posted on new youth developments specifically (since we’re both involved in youth work).
- I have a coffee partner from Trinidad and Tobago. She is a volunteer leader overseeing Red Cross activities for children and teachers in her District. She is so passionate about her work! I was very inspired and will have our next meeting next month
- The first round went remarkably well, as I was paired up with a brilliant woman from Australia who provided me with a good picture of the Australian Red Cross and general Australian civil services; amazingly, our different countries have very similar strategies in our communities! We’re also planning on keeping in contact with one another for fun / cultural education (including Red Cross information)
- I wanted you to know that I just did the first coffee meeting at 6 am this morning before work and it was such a lovely way to start the day! Great idea to link up volunteers and staff from different national societies. As well as a good chat, we both learned a fair bit and hope to maintain the connection.
- What were the chances that I got connected with someone who shared the same name with me! We had a wonderful chat…I am looking forward to my next “hook up.”
- Thank you for providing the opportunity to share and forge links with other volunteers worldwide. I had my first virtual coffee trial today, and it was an awesome experience. Discussing our work and sharing our experiences just added the right flavor to what we do regardless of the distance. We are not alone. We have a voice. Thank you. Looking forward to the Second Round.
You can learn more about how to Randomised Coffee Trials here.
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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