VR Collaboration tools help to include Liberating Structures into your remote workshops

I am working in cross-culture and functional diversed environments for quite a while. To master the challenge of "translation" between different types of individuals - extroverts & introverts, techies and sales, experts and generalist, blue collar and white collar etc. - was always my highest motivation to plan, moderate and run joint workshops

Soon I discovered "Liberating Structures" (by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless) as extremely valuable methods to unleash the entire potential of diverse groups. (Further information in Links below)

No matter the groups were in a phase of ideation, exploring best practises, analyzing test phases or in their regular strategy review - I always found simple to use methods and created strings which - beside an experienced moderator - only need post-its, markers and some space to divide larger groups.

The efficiency of the methology works great in face-to-face settings. And as my team mostly were spread around the globe, we also managed to use a few of them in online video calls. But that is it. A few of them. Breakout-Sessions, shared Whiteboards and some of the Liberating Structures certainly improve video calls but in my opinion do not even come close to potential of live meetings.

In COVID times, were travel is limited, the chances to live meet in a larger group are very low. And even with a recovery of the economy, a vaccine and overcoming the current crisis - I am certain we should keep using extended remote technologies to safe costs & time and improve the CO2 footprint of ourselves and our companies.

This said, VR Collaboration tools such as Glue, Spatial or meetinVR (see link list below for more) create an opportunity still underestimated. 

The re-build of natural environments such as Scrum Rooms, Meeting Rooms or Event Spaces allows us to fully feel the setting of a meeting similar to live meetings. The experience is immersive - "teleporting" you into the workshop situation while still sitting on your desk (or sofa).

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

With a professionalVR collaboration tool, it is far easier to use Liberating Structures such as 25/10 Crowd Sourcing, Critical Uncertainties or Wise Crowds. Although we only see avatars, the fact that our surrounding gets nearly blended out, allows a way higher efficiency than video-calls. Participants stay focused, in-the-scene. Distraction from incoming emails, mobile phones, visual signals of the kids running into your homeoffice - all gone

It takes only an open mind and a few minutes to get used to the environment until you try to lean on that virtual table recognizing that in real-world there is nothing to lean on in that position. Is that feeling weird? Frightening? Yes, to some it is - but at any time you can simply take off that headset.

To me, VR Collaboration allows us to manage critical steps efficiently in our alliances or corporate projects remotely with a modern tool at hand. It encourages relationships between the participants way more than in 2D calls. Yes, it is only an avatar - but it mirrors your gestures, your position and activity.

VR Collaboration will not replace 2D calls - which are efficient in their own way and appropriate for many situations. 

It will by no means replace live meetings - the chemistry between individuals, the exact mimics, smiles, touches - that all is irreplaceable.

I see the VR collaboration as another powerful tool, have the headset as easily available on the desk like to open your ZOOM. Use it, when interaction is needed, even spontaneously.

I encourage you to give it a try. Headsets are as easy to set up like a smart-phone, emotion sickness is mostly under control (I'm getting motion sick very soon in a car or on a ship, I do not in VR...except in a VR rollercoaster..) and hardware is affordable - just compare it to the price of a transatlantic flight in economy class.

Let us meet in VR.

Links to further explore:

Affective Interactions Using Virtual Reality: The Link between Presence and Emotions

Publication: 2007 

Link: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cpb.2006.9993

Why VR Is An Innovative Way To Think About Remote Meetings

Article: Forbes, 2020

Link. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/03/30/why-vr-is-an-innovative-way-to-think-about-remote-meetings/

Liberating Structures - Including and unleashing everyone

Website: http://www.liberatingstructures.com/

Best VR Apps for productive meetings

Website: https://immersive.ly/best-vr-apps-productive-remote-meetings/

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