Johnnie first blogged about Unhurried in 2014. It emerged from a series of conversations with his friend Antony Quinn. They share an interest in improv theatre and realised that the best improv had an unhurried quality. Players could relate to each other and build the scene together without panic.
The format is very simple. A number of people (so far, 6 – 10) meet for 90 mins to talk and listen. If this sounds like a ‘focus group discussion’, the reality is very different. We use a ‘talking piece’ format, meaning that only someone holding the talking piece can talk. It can be on any subject, for any length of time.
The result is that the conversation has a very different pace and structure to the normal, noisy ‘cut and thrust’ of a conversation or group discussion. It is not so much that it is slower, but more reflective and considered, more deliberated and also more spontaneous. It’s as if the ‘noise’ is turned off and you can hear people’s genuine feelings and thoughts. As Johnnie says:
“in an unhurried conversation, there is time to think differently and connect with people in a refreshing way … people find it easy to join in and not feel crowded out. And listening can be as satisfying as talking.”
Johnnie started exploring how unhurried can guide creativity, collaboration and leadership in his work as a facilitator. He describes the elements of unhurried as an approach here. It is really a mindset of being open to connections and possibilities at any given moment and getting comfortable with both the anxiety and excitement that this brings.
The approach fascinates me and reminds me of our own ‘wild conversations’ experiment. The conventional approach in research is that one group of people (‘clients’) have questions and issues that matter to them, which are put to another group of people (‘consumers’) by someone like me.
But what if we turned that on its head? What if we started with what interested and mattered to people and moved from there to the client’s agenda?
Is this start of Unhurried Research? Research in which:
- people feel willing to show up as themselves, connect and spark off each other
- everyone feels involved, empowered and has an equal role
- a space is created for curiosity and reflection to deepen understanding
- we operate at the edges of our comfort zones, surrendering control but secure enough to experiment