Project Description

Together – Ensemble
Sparkling ideas in movement

In a future zoom history in the European Commission, « Together – Ensemble », the programme proposed every week by Julie Guegan and Obhi Chatterjee (DG HR) should be referred to as one of the most visited destinations.

When, back in March 2020, Julie and Obhi proposed a first zoom online gathering on “team dynamics during a crisis” that everyone thought would not last more than a few weeks, they saw 800-900 colleagues, mainly line-managers, enrolled in the workshop.

Both Julie and Obhi were experienced in proposing workshops to co-design policies and putting collective intelligence at work, but this time the challenge was different and, as usual, they knew how to see the opportunity in it. Skilled to see the topics and frame them for debate came handy when they have embarked in the Together-Ensemble adventure somewhere in May 2020.

The enterprise was meant to be both a way to build resilience and keep fears – natural, given the circumstances – at bay and provide a rich environment for discussion and reflection to what matters most. Which could range from the future of learning to health, from populism to the future of work. The choice of topics is paramount and kept very much aligned to what is happening in the outside world, what is the debate, what is the emerging focus. The format is two-fold: internal or external speakers introduce the topic during a 45-minutes webinar. Then, the next day is scheduled a participatory workshop bringing people together to talk about it.

But such a simple and clear-cut format is the result of a lot of experimentation and learning from the most experimented facilitators in the world. Obhi believes that without the previous experience gathered the year before the pandemic they might have not been ready to propose such a comprehensive approach as Together-Ensemble.

What are the benefits of the program, including for you, personally?

Julie: “It has been 16 years that I am completely passionate about the European project and I want to do something that is meaningful. I was preparing for that, improving skills, reading books. I am happy [with Together-Ensemble] because I was a bit depressed, people wanted me in the digital box, for example Yammer, but I am not a digital person. I love digital as everybody, but it is not my core business, I am so much more people oriented!”

Obhi: “We pushed a lot of boundaries in getting this to happen. This program allowed us to show to a wider audience what is possible with collective action and collective thinking. […] It has been very rewarding to see the reactions, people taking the time to write to us after these sessions to say what they had appreciated about it. We have a much better understanding, I think, as a result of this, of how far the staff of the EU institutions and agencies are dispersed all over Europe and around the world. This reminds us that we are a global organization and this online interaction allow people to join from anywhere. I have a much better sense of the Commission and the EU institutions as global organizations today than I had a year ago.”

What may come next?

Julie: “We think that we can be much more ambitious. We should be much more inclusive, have citizens on board, have the conversation the same way, with citizens, not only from Europe, but from all over the world. It is a global conversation and we can be part of it.”

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