If you go on a climbing tour with friends, you will have to do some preparation. Within your group you will decide which route you will take, who takes the lead, and what weather conditions are acceptable. You will arrange a time, share tasks and make all the necessary arrangements. This all is based on agreement. When organizing a learning event, it is the same. Finding common ground and agreeing on how to work and learn together is a crucial step for successful collaboration within the design team, in preparing for the event, as well as for the whole learning event.

Common Ground: a basis of mutual interest or agreement
Merriam Webster Dictionary

In spring I had the chance to collaborate with an amazing design team. Our collaboration was based on openness, trust, joint learning and discovery. In our preparation sessions, we were building our common ground by agreeing how we wanted to work and learn together. Our invitation to the participants carried this spirit. On the first morning of the 4-days event we explicitly asked participants for their agreement to have a learning event based on togetherness, diversity of perspectives, creativity and openness and respect (have a look here how to create a group agreement).


As a community of learners, each is contributing her/ his knowledge, experience and insights.

Everyone counts and contributes to the success of a learning event.

We support each other, we ask what we need, and offer what we can.

We learn when we engage and interact with others.

Diversity of perspectives

In order to cultivate innovation, to learn and to change we need to hear all voices.

Our diversity of cultures, professional backgrounds and experiences is enriching our conversation.

We connect to each other and have a coffee with a ‘stranger’.

Creativity and openness for discovery

Creative methods and our openness and curiosity will help us open our minds and hearts, to notice opportunities, to discover and learn together and find better solutions.


We respect the work of the group. All mobile devices are off or on vibrate.

What do you do to find and build common ground in learning events?

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