Coffee + Conversation = Connection

I have been doing a thing. A very simple thing but in my view a very powerful thing. It all started when I joined the School for Health and Care Radicals earlier this year and joined a randomised coffee trial and from there something wonderful started to happen…

A randomised coffee trial or RCT is just a coffee and a conversation, but it is also so much more.  It is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with colleagues. It is not simply an excuse for gossip, rather it is an excellent way to build a connections with colleagues and to break down silos.

I realised that in a large organisation my personal network was narrow, so I made a commitment to meet more people and to learn from the experience. I started with a message on our in-house social media site inviting colleagues to ‘join me’ and was pleasantly surprised that some agreed. Then the magic happened. In the space of six months I have had ‘coffee’ with over 30 different colleagues at all levels. I have met some wonderful people, I have discovered some amazing things that people do, I have come to understand the local stories that people tell and I have listened to some of the challenges they face. What I have learned has been uplifting and saddening in equal measure. I have had a true insight into the cultural landscape of my organisation, more so than any consultant could achieve with a few workshops, as I have been able to see my place of work through many new pairs of eyes.

Across all the people I met I found a passion and commitment that was truly inspiring, I found new insights about how the organisation really functions and I realised the importance of making profound connections with those around us. I spoke with senior managers and with frontline staff, I spoke with people from every corner of the organisation and they all really wanted someone to listen to them.

I have now extended the process beyond the organisation boundary and begun inviting bloggers, authors and tweeters who inspire me to meet for a coffee. So far several have agreed and I had a great discussion with Stephen Parry last week discussing adaptive organisations and the importance of organisational climate.

By spending just a few minutes to have a meaningful connection there is so much to learn. There is more to connecting than following someone on social media.For real meaningful connection you need to listen and share. The importance of real connection cannot be under-estimated. Imagine how a customer feels dealing with an organisation that is connected? So much better than being passed around from silo to silo!

I would like to thank everyone I have met, and those I am still to meet, for their time, for their conversation and for connecting. I encourage others to do the same. Talk to someone new, break down silos and learn something new. Make your organisation truly connected.

Coffee + Conversation = Connection