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Science Tweeps! Three days before this week’s lab meeting we found ourselves with no agenda. You very kindly offered suggestions for how to fill the time – many thanks! From these, we came up with something new I’m excited to share. Friends, I present to you: LabFoo!
LabFoo is inspired by my great experience at SciFoo, an “unconference” where there is no agenda set in advance. Instead, the attendees set the agenda on the fly. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_F…
Here’s how LabFoo works. At the beginning of lab meeting, I set a timer for 10 minutes. During this time, lab members wrote suggestions for potential discussion topics on a white board. We also had snacks. I highly recommend snacks. Helps set the mood.
Here’s what our board looked like after 10 minutes:
Once we had our set of potential topics, I listed them all in a Slack channel. Next, everyone voted for their top 3 topics. We did this easily in Slack with emojis. We narrowed down to top 3 topics as a group, breaking ties with a second set of emojis:
Cultivating “deep work” mindset was the clear winner. I set another timer for 10 minutes and we shared our tips on how to get in the zone for reading and writing.
At 10 minutes our “deep work” conversation was still going strong so I set for another 5. After 15 minutes I asked if there were any final thoughts and we moved on to topic 2: scientific outreach.
Another 10 minutes flew by talking about engaging on social media, talking with journalists about our work, and writing for public audiences. We ended up going for 15+ minutes on this topic as well.
For our last topic, we shared insights on navigating the perennially tricky issues of intellectual ownership, authorship and collaboration. How to strike a balance between freely sharing ideas and protecting your own ongoing work? This topic took us to the end of meeting time.
Start to finish, LabFoo took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for planning + 3 topics. We could easily have gone on for longer and we still have a long list of topics we didn’t get to. We’ll definitely do it again!
I was blown away by how enthusiastically everyone participated. We had a great vibe with high trust, open sharing, and respectful listening. It was a fantastic activity for lab bonding. We also had a volunteer take notes to preserve our insights for lab posterity!
In sum: LabFoo is a great way to spend a lab meeting. Highly recommend! Ping me if you have any questions about how to implement in your own lab! /end
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