The Project Kitchen method gives participants concrete ideas and encouragement for moving forward in their projects or ventures, a better idea of other participants’ contexts and needs, and generates a stronger sense of togetherness. As a bonus, it sharpens listening skills and ability to ask for help. It feels fun and is time-efficient.
The format brings together a small number of people who have projects they would like assistance with and puts one project at a time under the spotlight for around 25 minutes. Generally 3-4 projects can be covered in a 2-hour Kitchen. A Chef facilitates; with the role of creating an atmosphere of trust, keeping things rolling, and avoiding wasting time through the process.
- Check-ins: Each person in the group is invited to respond to the question ‘How are you and why have you come today?’ This gets everyone present.
- Overview of Project Kitchen: The Chef describes the Project Kitchen – how it developed, what it’s designed to do, and a high level view of how it’s going to roll.
- Notes document: We create a Google Doc, share with participants and 2-3 people offer to write up notes for the session. These notes are often hugely valuable to distribute further than the group who attends the Project Kitchen as they have concise information about what different people are working on and what they would like help with.
- “Who has projects?”: Ask the group who has projects they would like help with. Four is ideal for a 2-hour session. If you have more projects than this then the group can make a decision of what projects to prioritize. Once you’ve decided what projects to engage in, the Project Kitchen choreography can begin with the first project.
- Context: Project holder talks about their project – giving the context the group needs to understand what they’re working on and what burning question or issue they might like the group’s brains on. (4 mins)
- Q&A: The group asks the project holder rapid-fire questions to get more of the background. Both the questions and answers should be as concise as possible to maximise the number of questions answered. The Chef can intervene if someone is talking rather than questioning. (4 mins)
- Burning question: The project holder articulates a focused question or issue that they would like the group’s help with. (1 min)
- Discussion: The group holds a generative discussion of ideas to help the project holder with their identified issue. The project holder is not allowed to speak – they can only take notes. The Chef helps the discussion stay focussed and makes sure there is room for everyone’s voice to be heard. (8 mins)
- Harvest: The project holder reflects back to the group what was valuable and actionable from their discussion. (3 mins)
- Rinse and repeat: Process is repeated for other projects on the table.
- Check-outs: Each person in the group is invited to talk briefly about their experience of the Project Kitchen process and what value they got out of it.