TED Fellows coaching event in New Orleans – SF facilitation in action

Many of you will know of the wonderful TED organisation (www.ted.com) with their high-octane conferences and free web-talks all focusing on ‘ideas worth spreading’.   A lesser known feature of TED is the TED Fellows programme – support for brilliant young scientists, artists, activists and thinkers, often from the developing world.  Each year some 1200 people apply for just 20 places on the Fellows programme, and you can see details of them at http://www.ted.com/pages/fellows

One of the benefits of the Fellows programme is that Fellows can obtain a coach.   This is called the SupporTED program, and is run by Renee Freedman and RuthAnn Harmisch of the Harmisch Foundation.  I met up with Renee at last year’s TED Global conference in Oxford, and was invited to audition as a coach (by coaching her!  Nerve wracking or what…).  Anyway I made the grade and have been coaching one of the Fellows since last Autumn (sorry I can’t tell you which one – confidentiality).

A new development in SupporTED is the TED Fellow Collaboratorium.  Thirteen Fellows gathered with around 50 coaches in New Orleans last week.  The format was one Fellow with about eight coaches for a day.  I made some suggestions about how this might be made to work, and ended up writing a facilitators guide for the event.  Each group had a Facilitator, and also an Advocate to speak up for the Fellow and what they wanted from the day.  I managed to get lots of SF processes etc into the guide, and many of the coaches commented on how useful it was.  (They may or may not have used it all…but nonethess it set a background for the way the event would run.)  I spoke with the facilitators and advocates each morning, and led a short piece in the final debrief.

The TED Fellows all contribute to a blog, and you can see a report from Jon Gosier about the event at http://tedfellows.posterous.com/supported-success.  A wonderful way to spend a weekend, working with fantastic people and all in the convivial atmosphere of New Orleans too.


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