Harvesting @ the Transmission 2011 Global Summit


Transmission Global Summit, Victoria, Canada.

How do you distill 49 roundtable conversations among 150 participants into a red thread and a synthesis model? Listen, make connections and don’t assume the answer beforehand.

Five members of The Value Web just came back from the Transmission Global Summit in Victoria, Canada where we supported a conference with key leaders in the digital media & arts industry. The conversations were structured around three general themes: protecting intellectual property rights versus connecting and opening up (protection/connection), balancing entrepreneurial spirit and ideation with corporate ability to realize commercial (inspiration/realization) and exploring global business opportunities while staying focused on local markets (globalization/localization).

We used a process that we are calling “harvesting & curation,” which is aimed at extracting insights from conversations, discussions and plenary speeches in order to identify the underlying red thread – or threads. Something we tried already at other occasions, but this time we had two people fully dedicated to just listen and iterate. Key was the support of  three groups that were dispersed among the roundtables, each attuned to a specific level of detail in the conversations: students from Royal Roads University who had volunteered to be table rapporteurs paid attention to key words and quotes; table facilitators listened for well formed ideas and models; and auditors identified strategic elements and common themes.

After each roundtable session, we ran separate debriefs where the outcomes were immediately fed back into the process and appeared on the knowledge wall with which participants interacted directly. We looked for bright ideas and memes, created word clouds, developed models and gained insights about overarching themes.

At the end of two days, we presented the red thread back to all participants in a summary presentation.

Here is what we found:

• Three vantage points have emerged from all conversations that helped to frame the right environment for a creative eco-system:

Consumer: What does the consumer actually want? It is mostly about the right scene, identity and cultural impact. But it is also about individual passion and the sense of community, in which they connect with other people.

Artist: For the artist, creativity is not a given, it is again about passion and inspiration and the right impulse to create.

Industry: The sense of urgency definitely comes from the industry vantage point. They have a vision about how the cultural artifacts can be spread. Again, passion is the key word here as we don’t want companies who already have an exist strategy in mind.

We then took those vantage points to understand how they connect together and what is shaping the conversation.

• We can no longer look at the old model of a value chain where mass-music was pushed out through traditional channels. Due to the financial crisis, the entire value chain has been displaced. Despite that we are all very aware of it, this has been the source of un-ease in many conversations as some people at the tables might no longer be around in the near future.

• The whole system has turned upside down with the consumer on one side and an ocean of choice on the other. The model we developed put the consumer and artist in relation, in which they connect through real passion and support with ideas around fair trade music. All of this is surrounded by a Global Registry of Internet Materials (GRIM) in response to the fraction of the existing system, which is a major barrier of globalization.

With the help of students who brought back key words from discussions, we created word clouds that show the real drivers of the conversations.

Connection / Protection:

What value does each player actually bring to the value chain?

Inspiration / Realization

When is it right to talk about money or is it rather about passion?

Globalization / Localization

Why do we want to be global if we actually don’t know what is happening locally around the corner?

Overall, this process of “harvesting & curation” has helped to refine the conversations and assured that the big ideas don’t fall off the table. In today’s fast paced world, listening and taking time to extract those ideas is key.

Word clouds generated by Wordle

Related post: Pipe cleaners, tin foil and new possibilities

Watch the video for a recap of transmission.


  1. Alicia says:

    Another interesting harvesting experience at Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference. http://bit.ly/atiQUN We scanned the high #secon twitter traffic for key messages. From this scan we synthesized hot topics for the knowledge wall (RT:::) Very exciting, effective and simple.

  2. Todd says:

    That’s cool, Alicia. At the Transmission Summit, they also had the #Transmisssion2011 Twitter feed running live on a big screen adjacent to the plenary space. I thought this was pretty interesting and wonder how we might integrate something like this into the Knowledge Wall area.

  3. Sita says:

    I like the twitter harvest – we could be more intentional about asking for synthesis tweets – and it would have to be with the right crowd – but certainly worth checking into more!
    Also – just posted the video from this session on the media page: http://www.thevalueweb.org/videomedia/

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