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The 100 Participants Milestone: Why I Doubled Down on the Digital Collage

September 8, 2022 - 4 minutes read
Gaël Duez's blog - article 5 - Picture of a Digital Collage workshop with its logo

The 100 participants milestone: Why I doubled down on the Digital Collage

Have you ever experienced this mixed feeling when you realize that the idea you had was actually a very good one, but that someone else had already deployed it in a better way than you ever could?

This is how my journey with the Digital Collage (la Fresque du Numérique for the French speaking community) started last year. The Mozilla Festival "MozFest" had entrusted me to animate one of its sessions dedicated to Sustainability, together with my partner in crime Antonia. I started developing an online workshop which I wanted to be highly interactive, science-based and fun. And of course something I could continually re-use to raise awareness of Digital Sustainability. Six weeks later I discovered the Digital Collage, a serious game created by Yvain Mouneux and Aurélien Deragne based on the pedagogical set-up of the Climate Fresk (Fresque du climat for the French speaking community) - the serious game on Climate change with +500K participants and counting. There was clearly no competition between a seasoned serious game, well-rythmed, covering multiple angles with dozens of references vs my workshop which was still at Proof of Concept stage.

The 4th principle of the agile manifesto is “Responding to change over following a plan”. I am not always aligned with “Agilism” but I still believe that this principle remains of vital importance for anyone launching an entrepreneurial adventure. Hence, I decided to embrace the change and use the DC framework without (almost) a twinge of regret 😉

A Delightful Surprise: The Digital Collage Ecosystem

Any disappointment was very short-lived. Within the DC association, I discovered a true community of people passionate about making our digital world more sustainable. I especially enjoyed:

  • The continuous improvement of the pedagogical setup. If you ask people for three hours of their time you need to make it count! So how can we keep the fun? How can we secure participation with a younger audience? Which picture on which card conveys the best message? Which wording will facilitate both understanding and inclusion?
  • The commitment to science, starting with being able to say “we don’t know yet”. We still lack data on e-waste, embedded carbon in data centers and network equipment, water consumption, etc. Being honest with participants and talking about orders of magnitude rather than presenting figures with false precision is a sign of great respect to people and a fact-based approach.
  • A clear commitment to impact the largest possible audience. In a world needing so much sobriety (at least from the richest countries), the only acceptable triple digit growth is the one raising awareness of our limits. And the DC community has delivered so far! 10x participants in the past 18 months and a further 10x expected in the next 18 months to ultimately reach 100K. 🚀
  • All of this being strengthened by an open-source approach and genuine kindness among members. If you want to dive deeper, I had an enlightening conversation with Sandra Sydow - senior facilitator and Board member of the Digital Collage association - in Episode 2 of the Green IO podcast.

Time to test & learn

I had found a promising tool and a promising community but I still had the same hypothesis to test. Is 3 hours too long? Is the content precise enough for Tech professionals? Does it trigger action? Will I be able to get comfortable with the animation techniques? How powerful is it online?

Being a big fan of the OKR framework as well as hypothesis testing, I borrowed to Jeff Gothelf his spot-on template and I wrote the following idea to be tested: “I believe that DC workshops will be welcomed by my professional network as a meaningful tool to raise awareness about Digital Sustainability. I will know I am right if I can reach > 100 attendees by June 2022”.
<Suspenseful music>
The milestone was reached mid-June having performed over 15 sessions. 🍾

Cherry on top of the cake, during these sessions I secured the "confirmed facilitator" status when I checked the criteria monitored by the association to ensure quality interventions. Cherry on top of the cherry on top of the cake, several attendees decided to join as facilitators too, to help us amplify the momentum. Since, several contacts have already asked me to facilitate Digital Collage sessions within their companies. I guess I was right to embrace the change.

My 2 cents about picking up the right tool

I am reluctant to give advice but I’m always keen to share contextualized feedback for whoever can identify with my situation. Here are the takeaways I gained:

  • When choosing a new tool, size and vibrancy of the community supporting it are key. And most of the time open source solutions win big time.
  • Collective intelligence moves mountains when well structured. Just putting well-intentioned people in the same room is not an efficient use of their time. An experienced animator and a framework will truly leverage their investment in making change happen
  • Change cannot happen without onboarding stakeholders first. Thank you captain obvious 🙂 And communicating about raising awareness is fine. When an organization starts its journey towards greener IT using the DC, it should not be shy about it. It is OK to broadcast it both internally and externally, providing honest communication such as “we train and empower our teams so they can help reduce our environmental impact”. No one will accuse you of greenwashing if you contextualize and do not pretend to offset your entire business footprint 😉.

“Nowadays every job is a climate job”

Having validated the efficiency of the Digital Collage workshop, I decided to double down my investment in it. I had the pleasure of completing my facilitator trainer journey in July. It was a humbling exercise to challenge my own habits in order to provide the best training for future facilitators. I am also honored to have been voted to join the DC Board in June where I will support Sandra Sydow on her mandate to expand the workshop internationally. Of course, I will keep facilitating regular sessions myself, both online and on-site (mostly in La Réunion and Paris).

However, a brief check on LinkedIn taught me that over 29M people worldwide currently have a job in either IT or Product Management. A very conservative assumption to work with knowing LinkedIn’s imperfect world coverage. As Jamie Alexander from Project Drawdown rightfully says “nowadays every job is a climate job”. All of these workers should get a chance to green the web and the entire ICT sector which all start with raising awareness. Spoiler alert: I don’t expect myself nor the +40 International facilitators to live more than 283 years doing workshops 24/7 - so we need you to participate and then join our community across the world. To be notified about new facilitator training workshops simply follow the Digital Collage LinkedIn page or message me to be added to the list.

And if you did not have a chance to attend a workshop already, good news is that new sessions pop up every week 📈 To be able to join the +20K people who have already participated click here.

Gaël Duez - writer of the article
Written by Gaël Duez
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