On behalf of NHS England and Macmillan Cancer Support, I devised a different way of working with groups of health and care commissioners to improve patient experience. Instead of bringing people together to listen to presentations, I worked with health writer Simon Crompton (www.simoncrompton.com) to help participants themselves to achieve consensus.
At the heart of this approach were conversations-in-the-round – known as fishbowl conversations - in which a number of people sat in a circle and have a real conversation which I facilitated. It is not a presentation and nothing needs to be prepared beforehand. All other seats in the room are arranged in circles around the central conversation. An empty chair in the conversation-in-the-round makes it possible for another participant to join in. These conversations unlock new thinking and ideas and bring in people who might not ordinarily think that they can talk in a large group.