Last Sunday I did an experiment which I called the Open table experiment. One almost full day, from 11:00 AM till after 7:00 PM, I sat in a café with my laptop, waiting for people to come along, join me and engage in a conversation on any subject they wanted.
The support, interest in the experiment and appreciation were overwhelming. A lot of people welcomed the initiative and many of them where curious to know what happened and how it worked. I have a few conclusions about the event and some plans for the future:
1. People are reticent about going all out into the unknown
Everyone who came I already knew. Some were really good friends; others, people I just met a few times. But there was no one I had never met before. Even if most of the information about me, my work and expertise is public, people are still reserved about going into the unknown.
2. Topics come and go
Even if some discussions started on specific subjects, we “went all over the place”, covering a plethora of topics. It’s inspiring to have such diverse things to talk about and see how the conversation naturally flows and you find common subjects and points of interest.
3. If you want to know how it was, come and see!
While I appreciate the interest many people showed in the experiment, it was all about face to face interaction, meeting each other and having a (hopefully) fruitful conversation. We are too busy, too scared to go out of our comfort zone and too lazy to come and see for ourselves. We would rather have some else describe the experience, tell us how it feels and because of that, we sometimes miss out on a potentially great first-hand experience.
4. Do it better next time!
I have decided to try and do this on a monthly basis for at least one year and see how it goes and what is there to improve, both in terms of people joining the experiment and quality of topics and discussions.
So, see you in December!