Inspiring innovation with BBC Audio & Music Interactive
UPDATE: yesterday's BBC Audio & Music Interactive (A&Mi) departmental meeting, held in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, was an unusual one. It had a single theme, suggested by staff - 'innovation' - and we ran the whole thing much more openly than usual:
- Attendees were encouraged to tweet publicly throughout - providing a kind of running commentary for the event. Two sessions - during which management discussed issues of obvious sensitivity for staff - the BBC's strategic review and proposed pension changes, for instance - were flagged as 'not for tweeting' - and this was respected. Switching from 'open' to 'closed' during the course of the meeting seems to work, although I'd anticipate some disagreement about this for future meetings!
- I publicised a nice, short hashtag (#amint) and many people who weren't at the meeting used it to contribute comments, questions and suggestions.
- I provided a 'real-time' commentary on the meeting here on the blog (using live chat software from Candian company Cover it Live which is widely used for live events at the BBC and elsewhere). Click 'Replay' above to see all the comments and tweets from the event.
- We also used an SMS shortcode (we borrowed Radio 3's, since it wasn't in use for the duration of the meeting) for staff to send in questions and comments. In the end it wasn't used seriously and I didn't publish any of the comments that came in - all the action was on Twitter. I think it's probably worth keeping the SMS element for future events, though, since it's good for anonymous contributions.
- In addition to publishing the whole conversation here on the blog, much of the chatter was visible to Twitter users following the hashtag - and we threw it up onto a big screen in the Radio Theatre too (with the expected hilarity and potential for distraction). Immediate feedback on this part was that it made the meeting a bit more fun. It certainly felt more inclusive to have participants' views scrolling down the screen in full view (and using Cover it Live to 'curate' tweets neutralised the now well-understood risks inherent in automatically publishing tweets!).
- Many of the morning's 'breakout' sessions took place in the offices of interesting businesses around Central London - from Media Trust to The Telegraph - and attendees were encouraged to keep tweeting from these sessions - hosts also joined in - click 'Replay' to see their contributions (and here's the full running order).
- As to practicalities: getting dozens of people onto the specially-provided wifi was a challenge so I retreated to a network-connected computer in the control booth to type my commentary and this meant I couldn't use Cover It Live's very neat iPhone app to control things from my seat in the auditorium. On the big screen in the theatre we displayed the conversation using Cover it Live itself and some very handsome word clouds from Visible Tweets. We'd love to have been able to display a dynamic wordcloud - one that updated as we tweeted - but couldn't find a service that would do that.
- A final round-up at the end of the morning (Radio 1 creative Hugh Garry talking to Controller Mark Friend - someone tweeted "It's Jedward!"), back in the Radio Theatre, brought all the themes together and used the morning's tweets as material: they form an interesting and permanent (although obviously partial) record of the meeting and it strikes me they're a bit like the forest of sticky notes usually left behind after any kind of corporate meeting these days.
If you joined in, or just watched proceedings from the side, do leave a comment to let us know what you thought? Is opening BBC meetings in this way valuable? Should we do more? Would you like to see more everyday meetings opened up? Would you watch a video stream if we published one?
Credits: the event was produced by Alan Phillips and Clare Bousfield and Richard Morland made most of the interactivity happen. Vox pop videos shown at the meeting were shot by Clare and Siddharth Khajuria.
Steve Bowbrick is blogs editor at BBC Audio & Music
- The picture shows Radio 1 producer Laura May Coope presenting the network's Facebook figures. It was taken by Sam Bailey.