Speed dating instructions
Using the 8th grade dance model, the chefs line up against the wall, and the farmers went over and chose an initial "date." If it had been a smaller group (there were more than 80 participants), the chefs would have given a brief introduction so that farmers would have been better able to target their speed dates.In introducing the speed dating session, we deliberately downplayed getting to actual deals and instead discussed these desired objectives/outcomes: As it turns out, the objectives were needlessly conservative.Attendees are paired with each person attending the session for two minutes.
The inexperienced managers listed market management issues/problems they wanted to discuss.The original speed dating was introduced as a way of promoting a safe and quick way of meeting a broad variety of date candidates.(A simple "Google search" will uncover many examples.) The Oregon Farmers' Market Association (OFMA) holds an annual conference to educate market managers about current issues.The experienced managers listed three significant lessons they had learned in managing markets. The experienced managers stayed put, while the inexperienced rotated one station.The experienced mangers lined up against one wall (think an 8 grade dance), and then the inexperience managers selected one for a conversation. Instructions were given to talk about either the same topics (since different people might have different views) or new ones. After a second period had passed, this conversation was closed, and the speed mentoring ended.A speed mentoring approach was successful in sharing knowledge among farmers' market managers with different levels of experience.Farmers and chefs used a more classic speed dating approach to forge new relationships and make deals.As an antidote, Robert Chambers, in his superb book Participatory Workshops, proposes the "buzz": "So easy. Invite participants to buzz with others next to them--about what has just been covered or done, an issue that has arisen, the agenda.The immediate wake-up often includes learning by talking." Speed dating takes these conversations a step further by focusing on a specific topic of interest and by recognizing that individuals fill different roles in many conversations.A panel of veteran market managers providing tips and suggestions has always been valuable, but it suffers from a format that is too similar to all the other sessions.At the 2003 meeting, OFMA replaced the panel with "Speed Mentoring." The entire group divided itself into two categories--experienced managers and inexperienced managers.